Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Flu season is here, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) urges everyone ages 6 months and older to get their flu vaccine, ideally before the end of October. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the community.
“We continue to see hospitalizations for both adults and children from COVID-19, as well as other respiratory illnesses, including RSV,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist. “The last thing we want is to further stress our health care system and providers right now, especially when it’s as easily preventable as flu.”
Last flu season was very mild in comparison to previous seasons, with only 34 hospitalizations statewide. For comparison, more than 3,500 Coloradans were hospitalized with influenza in the 2019-2020 flu season and three children died. Measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 also likely reduced the spread of flu and other respiratory diseases last season. Therefore, it is possible that we may experience an increase in flu activity this season which may be related to more in-person and large gatherings than in 2020.
Flu seasons are unpredictable. It is too soon to know if this season will be more or less severe than recent seasons. Flu cases start to increase in October and can peak anytime between late December and February before dropping off in the spring. Because it takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, October is the ideal time to get it.
“Flu vaccines are reformulated annually to best match which strains of the flu virus are expected to be in circulation. We recommend any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine, including intranasal and injectable versions. Getting your yearly vaccine can keep you and others from getting sick, can make the illness milder if you do get sick,and can keep you out of the hospital,” said Heather Roth, immunization branch chief, Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response with CDPHE.
Medicare, Medicaid, CHP+ and most private health insurers cover the full cost of the flu vaccine; you don’t have to pay anything to health care providers that accept your health plan. If you don’t have health insurance, you can still get the flu vaccine for free at certain health care providers. Protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu by contacting your health care provider, local public health agency or pharmacy to make a vaccine appointment today.
“While healthy people normally recover from the flu, getting a shot keeps you from spreading the virus to those at higher risk for flu complications, including people 65 and older, children under 5, pregnant people and those with certain chronic medical conditions,” Herlihy said. “And because babies younger than 6 months can’t get the vaccine, it’s up to us all to protect them.”
The state health department recommends:
• In addition to getting a flu vaccine every year, adults 65 and older should check whether they have had a pneumococcal vaccine. There are two brands of flu vaccine specifically developed for persons 65 and older; people can talk to their doctors about which vaccine is best for them.
• Children younger than 9 years old who are either getting the flu vaccine for the first time or have only previously received one dose of the vaccine should get two doses of the vaccine. The first dose should be given as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose.
• Pregnant people have more serious complications if they get the flu and should be vaccinated before the end of October. The flu vaccine can be given in any trimester of pregnancy.
To stay informed, visit the department’s flu web page at: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/influenza. The department’s Colorado Flu Report, which tracks flu numbers in the state, starts Oct. 13 and is updated weekly.