Flu season has officially begun in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is tracking flu hospitalizations on the Colorado Viral Respiratory Disease Data Dashboard; since October 1, there have been 20 flu-related hospitalizations reported in the state. Last year’s flu season landed over 3,000 Coloradans in the hospital. In the U.S., flu causes millions of illnesses each year. These illnesses result in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. The good news? Flu is preventable with the annual flu vaccine. The best way to ensure you don’t become one of these statistics is to get your flu vaccine!
This Team Vaccine Blog post is part two in a three-part series addressing vaccines for respiratory illnesses. Today, we share the importance of getting a flu vaccine. Our next blog in the series will shed light on new RSV vaccines and treatments. Look for it in the coming weeks.
Want the best protection against the flu? Get vaccinated by the end of October!
The CDC recommends everyone six months of age or older get vaccinated against flu by the end of October. This provides the best protection throughout the flu season, which typically lasts through the spring. If you miss getting the flu vaccine in October, you should still get vaccinated; late protection is better than none. Flu vaccines are available throughout the entire flu season. You can get them at your local pharmacy, local public health agency, doctor’s office, and more. You can even get your COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as your flu vaccine. Once you’re vaccinated, it will take two weeks for you to be fully protected.
Think the flu is no big deal or that kids aren’t at risk? Flu is serious even in healthy kids and adolescents. Ensure they’re protected!
Flu is no joke, and we shouldn’t take it lightly. Some people who catch the flu may experience only mild cold-like symptoms. Others will get severely ill. Even people who are otherwise healthy can become hospitalized or die from flu infection. Last year, those under age 18 experienced high hospitalization rates, and there were 154 flu deaths in children across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two of every three children hospitalized with flu had not been vaccinated. While those under six months of age and adults over 65 are at greatest risk for severe infection and complications, this does not mean other age groups are safe from the risk of severe illness. Additionally, schools and childcare centers offer prime opportunities for viruses to spread. When kids are vaccinated, we keep transmission down.
Pregnant? Your baby needs you to get the flu vaccine!
If you’re pregnant, you are at greater risk for complications, hospitalization, and even death if you catch the flu. Your body is working double time providing for both your and your child’s needs. With all the added demands of pregnancy, your immune system is not as strong.
If you get infected with the flu, your likelihood of pregnancy complications increases. Preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects are some of the risks you take by not getting your flu vaccine. Plus, getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy provides passive immunity to your baby. This is important during the first six months of life when they’re too young to be vaccinated. Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy is not only safe, it’s essential for both of you!
Love your family and your community? Get vaccinated to stop the spread of flu and help protect them!
Your decision to get vaccinated against flu may be a personal choice, but it doesn’t end with you. When you’re vaccinated, you protect yourself from severe illness and you also help stop the spread of the virus to others. Flu is highly contagious and very common. Vulnerable people in our communities rely on us to help protect them. This includes infants under six months, adults over 65, people with chronic illness, and people with compromised immune systems. Each of us share a responsibility to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. It’s no different from being a safe driver on the road.
Do your part this flu season. Get the flu vaccine!
Flu vaccines have been in use since 1945. They are extremely safe and cannot give you the flu. In addition to maintaining other healthy habits, they offer the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Help keep Colorado healthy and make the flu stop with you. Find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers based on your location and insurance at Vaccines.gov. Have more questions about the flu? View our Flu Fact Sheet or speak to your medical provider for reliable answers.
Immunize Colorado was formed in 1991 in response to alarmingly low vaccination rates across the state. At the time, only about 50% of Colorado’s children were adequately vaccinated. A group of physicians and other concerned individuals came together to strategize how to protect Coloradans from vaccine-preventable diseases and increase vaccine uptake. Much work remains. You can donate or discover other ways to get involved in supporting our commitment to healthy Colorado communities today!