Refuse the “gift” that keeps on giving; get vaccinated to avoid flu

Shannon Barbare, Communications Specialist | 303-692-2036 |
DENVER— It’s the season for friends, family, food and flu. Numerous gatherings and holiday travel mean it’s an important time to get a flu vaccine if you haven’t already done so this season.
Flu activity is increasing across the country and in Colorado, and most people who get the flu get sick between December and February. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
“While it’s hard to say how flu season will play out, so far, more people have been hospitalized with flu this year than at the same time in the last five seasons,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “The annual flu vaccination is the best protection we have, so we encourage everyone age 6 months and older to get a vaccine as soon as possible.”
There have been 210 Coloradans hospitalized with flu this year, compared to 64 at this time in 2016. Flu activity typically increases through February and can last through May.
“Getting vaccinated protects you and, perhaps more importantly, keeps you from spreading the virus to more vulnerable people,” Herlihy said. People 65 years and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of serious flu complications.
Check with your health care provider about getting vaccinated, or to find flu vaccines at retail outlets, visit People who need help paying for flu vaccine can contact their local public health agencies.
 In addition to getting vaccinated, remember:
●      Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and when you are sick, keep your distance from others.
●      Stay home when you are sick.
●      Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. 
●      Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
●      Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
●      If you get flu and your doctor prescribes antiviral medications, take them as directed. These medicines can lessen flu symptoms and shorten the time you are sick.
Visit the department’s influenza data page to find the weekly flu report for Colorado.