Twenty Coloradans have been hospitalized with flu since August 1, about double the number of cases the state usually sees this time of year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) urge Coloradans ages 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine, ideally before the end of October. Yearly flu vaccines are the first and most important step in protecting against influenza disease.

Flu is among the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States, infecting millions of people every flu season. During last year’s flu season, 3,340 Coloradans were hospitalized with flu, and two Colorado children died. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older populations, very young children, pregnant women, and those with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Here are some facts about this year’s flu vaccine:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends only injectable flu shots this year. The nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) is not recommended.
  • The CDC, as well as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy. Influenza can be a more severe disease during pregnancy. Pregnant women may receive any licensed, recommended and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
  • Options for flu vaccine include vaccines protecting against three or four strains of flu; high-dose and enhanced vaccine for older people; and vaccines manufactured without eggs. People should discuss these choices with their health care providers.

SJBPH encourages residents to receive their immunizations in their medical home with their primary care provider. Flu shots are a preventive care benefit for both children and adults covered under the Affordable Care Act and for most people the immunization will be free. For more information, visit https://www.healthcare.gov/what-are-my-preventive-care-benefits/.

SJBPH has a limited supply of specialized flu vaccine including high dose flu shots for seniors and preservative free vaccine for pregnant women. Additionally, SJBPH can provide flu shots for eligible children and adults who qualify for federally supported vaccines if they are unable to receive them from their primary care provider.

Call (970)247-5702 to schedule an appointment at the SJBPH Durango office or (970)264-2409 for an appointment at the SJBPH Pagosa Springs office.