The Montana Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first flu cases in the state - and three of them are in nearby Missoula County.

Influenza has been found in patients in Missoula and Lewis and Clark County, according to DPHHS Director Richard Opper. He said, "With many vaccine options available, getting vaccinated is easier than ever. We'd like to make sure everyone can stay healthy this year."

He said protection by vaccination lasts throughout the entire flu season, but a new dose is needed every year to keep up defense against the mutating virus.

Karl Underwood of the DPHHS Communicable Disease program said, "People with asthma, diabetes and and other chronic medical conditions, the elderly, pregnant women and young children can become very ill if infected by influenza."

The current quadrivalent shot covers four different flu viruses. Consult with your health care provider if you have questions.