Guest post from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
This year’s flu season has been gaining attention in the media, so you may be wondering what information is relevant to Colorado and what you can do. Here are four key tips:
- Get Vaccinated
- Practice Healthy Habits
- Protect yourself and others if you get sick
- Stay Informed
As of Jan. 12, the state has reported a total of 674 cases of people hospitalized with the flu in 36 counties. There also have been four confirmed child deaths.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment continues to recommend the flu vaccine for anyone who has not been vaccinated this season. Colorado still has flu vaccine available. Check with your doctor first. Some grocery and drug stores have the flu vaccine, but these stores may not be able to offer the vaccine to young children. Give them a call before you make the trip.
You may have heard this year’s vaccine is about 62 percent effective. While this isn’t ideal, vaccination is still the best prevention measure available. And research shows if you do get the flu, it likely is less severe than if you did not get immunized.
There are some people who are especially vulnerable to complications from influenza. It is particularly important for these groups to be vaccinated:
- Children ages 6 months to 4 years.
- People with chronic health conditions, especially those with breathing complications or those that suppress immune function.
- Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives.
- People who are morbidly obese.
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities.
- Health care professionals.
- Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 or adults 50 and older.
The more people are vaccinated, the fewer cases of flu we all pass around, which in turn offers greater protection to those at-risk groups.
Practice Healthy Habits
In addition to vaccination, there are simple actions to practice every day to help protect yourself and others from the flu:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Protect Yourself and Others If You Get Sick
- Get antiviral treatment as early as possible if you are at high risk of flu complications.
- Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
More information about the Colorado flu season, including a weekly flu surveillance report is available at http://1.usa.gov/WVRqPk.
Influenza information also is available through Colorado’s Public Health CO HELP line:
- metro area/local 303-389-1687
- statewide 1-877-462-2911