It’s a warm and beautiful December Wednesday in the Mile High City. And if you’re out enjoying the sunshine, it may be easy to forget it’s flu season. But, alas, it is. And now is not the time to get careless about covering your sneezes.
The CDC reports flu activity is picking up across the country for the first time all season.
Since Oct. 2, there have been 145 total flu-related hospitalizations in Colorado, 32 of those from Denver County. Colorado is reporting more hospitalizations from the flu this year than last year at this time.
Last year, there were less than five reported cases of flu-related hospitalizations per week in the weeks leading up to Dec. 5, 2015. It took until Jan. 1 for hospitalizations per week to surpass 20 — which is about where we’ve been for the past four weeks.
The CDC reports flu activity is picking up across the United States, rising from minimal to above baseline for the first time all season.
But according to State Epidemiologist Lisa Miller, there is no cause for panic. She said this season’s flu activity is more typical than last year’s, which saw a very slow increase, then a spike in activity around March. She expects flu cases to gradually rise, then gradually drop off.
Influenza type A is dominant this year, with 73 cultures testing positive for influenza A, subtype H3N2; two for H1N1; and 10 for influenza B. There are vaccinations available that cover both A and B (and two more strains) this year. The CDC recommends immunocompromised and vulnerable individuals get vaccinated early on. In Colorado, the majority of influenza cases manifest in those under 6 months and over 65 years of age.
The CDC reported vaccinations prevented an estimated 5 million flu-associated illnesses and 71,000 flu hospitalizations in the 2015-2016 season. But as of Dec. 9, only about two in five nationwide had received flu vaccinations.
Vaccinations are known to be only 50 to 60 percent effective in completely staving off the virus but can reduce symptoms, risk of death or possible re-infection by a different strand of flu if an individual has already been sick during a season.
Where to get a flu shot:
Flu vaccinations are available from primary care doctors and most pharmacies, including CVS, Safeway, Walgreens and Albertson’s for those 6 months of age or older. Don’t want to risk it? Check out this flu vaccine finder, courtesy of the CDC:
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