The state has recorded its first flu death of the year, and it was a resident of Hancock County.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a Hancock County resident, over the age of 65, died from influenza during the week ending December 22nd. The person's name was not released.

Last year's flu season saw 82 flu-related deaths, making it the deadliest year in decades. The Associated Press reports this year is starting out on a much more positive note, with 17 hospitalizations and 168 confirmed cases of the flu so far this season. At this time last year, there had already been 99 hospitalizations and 373 confirmed cases.

Health Officials say this year's vaccine appears to be much more effective for the active strains of the flu, and so residents should get their flu shots as soon as possible. The vaccine won't prevent a person from catching the flu altogether, but will greatly decrease the length and severity of the symptoms. In addition, folks should wash their hands often, cover their coughs, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. And, once they do start feeling sick, they should stay home to avoid spreading the virus.

Find more information on the state's Maine Flu website.