79 hospitalized for the flu in Colorado this season

The flu is taking off more quickly in Colorado this season than last.

Snow day, Nov. 17, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)capitol; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; colorado; snow; weather; cowx; snow;
Snow day, Nov. 17, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) capitol; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; colorado; snow; weather; cowx; snow;
Snow day, Nov. 17, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Hello, dear readers, it’s that time of the [two] weeks again, where we casually remind you of your mortality this winter season with a flu update.

The flu is taking off more quickly in Colorado this season than last.

Since Oct. 2, there have been 79 total flu related hospitalizations in Colorado, including 14 in Denver County. Colorado is reporting more hospitalizations from the flu this year than last year at this time.

Last year, there were less than five reported cases of flu-related hospitalizations per week in the weeks leading up to Dec. 5, 2015. It took until Jan. 1 for hospitalizations per week to surpass 20–which is about where we’ve been for the past two weeks.

But don’t panic: The CDC reports flu activity is still low this season. And State Epidemiologist Lisa Miller said this season’s flu activity is more typical than last year’s, which saw a very slow increase, then a spike in activity around March.

“Flu is predictably unpredictable,” she said, adding that she expects flu cases to gradually rise, then gradually drop off.

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Comparison of flu hospitalizations by week since 2009. (Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment)

Forty-two cultures tested positive for influenza A, subtype H3N2, two for H1N1. Others tested positive for influenza A and B, but the subtypes were not identified. There are vaccinations available that cover both (and two more strains) this year. The CDC recommends immunocompromised and vulnerable individuals, especially individuals between 6 months and 6 years old and those over 65, get vaccinated early on.

Vaccinations are known to be only 50 to 60 percent effective in completely staving off the virus but can reduce symptoms, risk of death or possible re-infection by a different strand of flu if an individual has already been sick during a season.

And Kaiser Permanente is offering higher dose vaccinations for the elderly and immunocompromised individuals, although the CDC is still conducting research on the effectiveness of heightened doses.

Where to get a flu shot:

Flu vaccinations are available from primary care doctors and most pharmacies, including CVS, Safeway, Walgreens and Albertson’s for those 6 months of age or older. Don’t want to risk it? Check out this flu vaccine finder, courtesy of the CDC:


Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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