First flu-related deaths of season reported in Nebraska as winter illnesses pick up

Two people in Nebraska have died from flu-related deaths, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

These are the first flu-related deaths of the season.

Both people were over 65 years old, the department said Friday. One was from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department’s area. The other was from the North Central District Health Department’s area.

“All it takes is getting the flu once and you have a whole new appreciation of its health importance,” Dr. Tom Safranek, Nebraska’s state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “Flu vaccine is our best protection against the flu and it’s recommended for everyone 6 months and older.”

No flu-related deaths have been reported in Iowa, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health said.

Last flu season, 90 people died in Nebraska, including one child, department officials said.

Iowa saw 272 flu-related deaths.

Flu activity is increasing across Nebraska, department officials said.

Certain groups who are at greater risk of complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with long-term health problems.

In addition to being vaccinated, the department gave these tips to protect yourself from the flu and other winter illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from school, work, family gatherings and social functions if you’re sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands.

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