The CDC reports flu activity is picking up across the country. And although flu hospitalization rates are not troublingly high, especially compared to past seasons, this week’s data suggests that Denver County is experiencing almost twice the amount of flu-related hospitalizations than the nation on average.
Since Oct. 2, there have been 323 total flu-related hospitalizations in Colorado. Denver County has experienced the highest number of hospitalizations, with 61 cases reported. Colorado is reporting more hospitalizations from the flu this year than last year at this time, but significantly fewer than the 2014/2015 season.
The CDC reports flu activity is picking up across the United States, with a cumulative rate of 4.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population. By comparison, Colorado’s rate is 5.9 per 100,000 and Denver’s is 8.9.
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 144 cultures testing positive for influenza A, subtype H3N2; five for H1N1; and 22 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. Influenza tends to be more common 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 early November, 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.
Or check out this flu vaccine finder, courtesy of the CDC:
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