COVID-19 and influenza are still prominent in Gallatin County and Montana as a whole. A Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital employee shares why it is so important to get vaccinated and a Gallatin Rest home resident shares why she got her vaccine this year.
A resident of Gallatin Rest home, Joyce Santos, said she got her flu vaccine this year because “I have COPD so I don't want to take any chances.”
Infectious disease physician, Peter Bulger, said this year has been a big one for the flu.
”It was kind of predicted both by a severe season in the southern hemisphere over the summer, which is their winter and then also because all of us were not exposed to these viruses as much as we normally would be over the last few years,” said Dr. Bulger.
Bulger also said COVID is still something to take seriously even though numbers are cooling down.
“COVID has been kind of steady at a low simmer, I would say,” said Dr. Bulger.
For the season to date, the state of Montana has seen 8,221 cases, 408 hospitalizations, and 8 deaths due to influenza. In the entire 2022 to 2023 season, there were 1,563 cases of the flu in Gallatin County and 108 cases reported in the last week of 2022.
For COVID cumulatively in Montana, there have been 322,672 cases, 13,846 hospitalizations, and 3,630 deaths. Gallatin County reported 85 new cases this week and Silver Bow County reported 19 new cases.
Bulger said getting a vaccine is your best option to defend against these illnesses.
“You may know lots of people who say, 'Well, I got the vaccines and then I still got COVID, or I still got the flu.' And that's totally true," said Bulger, "They don't necessarily prevent you from getting the infection, although they do decrease the likelihood. But the main thing that they can accomplish is making it a less severe infection if you do get it.”
Santos is still going to be taking precautions even after her vaccination.
“I’m trying to stay in my room and not get into crowds. I get out once I went to my son's for Christmas dinner,” said Santos.