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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

North Idaho man dies from flu complications

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, a nurse gives administers a flu vaccine shot in Washington. Preliminary data released by U.S. health officials on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2017 suggest this season's vaccine is 48 percent effective. That's not bad since the strain that’s making most people sick is one of the worst. Experts consider it a good year when a flu vaccine is 50 to 60 percent effective. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) ORG XMIT: NY350 (Jacquelyn Martin / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A north Idaho man has become the first in the state to die from flu-related complications, signaling what may be an early flu season.

The man was in his 50s, and his death was confirmed to be influenza-related Monday, said Melanie Collett, spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District.

Four people in Spokane County have been hospitalized for the flu, the Spokane Regional Health District said in a report Tuesday. No one has yet died in Washington.

It takes several weeks to develop immunity to influenza strains after a vaccine, so health workers recommend getting a vaccine now, before flu viruses are circulating more widely.

Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. During the 2016-17 flu season, 72 Idahoans and 276 Washingtonians died from the flu.

“We are seeing sporadic influenza activity in some northern Idaho counties,” said Jeff Lee, the health district’s staff epidemiologist, in a news release. “I strongly encourage people to get their influenza vaccination now, so there is time to develop immunity before getting exposed to the flu virus.”