In the midst of flu season, local health officials urge public to get vaccinated
Flu FAST facts
Who can get the flu vaccine? Anyone older than six months, as long as they are not immunocompromised. Pregnant women can get the flu vaccine at any time as long as it is the inactive virus.
When? October is the ideal time, but you can get one as late as June. If you are planning to travel, consider getting one before your trip.
Where can you get the flu vaccine?
Middle Park Health: Make an appointment at any of their clinic locations for billing through insurance or walk-in to any of the clinic locations for $20. They will be offering a flu vaccine clinic from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 17 at the Fraser Historic Church.
Safeway: Walk-ins welcome during pharmacy hours for flu vaccines. Safeway takes most insurance, but if you are uninsured or your insurance doesn’t cover flu vaccines, it is $39. Flu vaccines also come with a 10 percent off coupon for groceries.
City Market: Walk-ins welcome during pharmacy hours for flu vaccines. City Market takes most insurances, but if you are uninsured or your insurance doesn’t cover flu vaccines, it can cost up to $60.
Grand County Public Health: The public health department offers a limited quantity of free flu vaccines if you are uninsured with an appointment. They also offer vaccines for children, people with Medicaid, Medicare and people who are underinsured with an appointment.
There’s a lot to enjoy during the winter season, but with the fresh powder and cool temperatures also comes the coughing, aches and illness associated with flu season.
Following last year’s historic flu season in Colorado, which hospitalized 4,650 people, health officials are encouraging everyone six months and older, who is not immunocompromised, to get their flu vaccine.
“Of course, the more people that get the vaccine, the better our herd immunity is going to be and we’re going to be more protected as a community,” said Laura Scheening, public health nurse for the Grand County Department of Public Health. “We are a huge tourist town, so we are even more exposed even if you don’t travel, we have a lot of international travellers coming here over the holidays, so even more of a reason.”
Scheening said there have been reported cases of flu in Grand County. Hospitalizations in the state have reached 960 since Sept. 30, which is less than last year, but shows the importance of prevention.
Last year, the most prominent flu strain was Influenza A subtype H3N2. In Grand County alone, there were at least three influenza-related hospitalizations and one death.
Scheening said this year’s flu vaccine includes the H3N2 subtype, as well as an Influenza B subtype.
“We are hopeful that we are not going to see the hospitalizations and the nationwide deaths and a lot of illness because we have the H3N2 subtype in there this year,” Scheening said.
Scheening said the ideal time to get a vaccine is in October, but the vaccine can be given until June and it’s better to get it late than never. She also said it’s important to get one before travelling.
Local pharmacies have already seen lines of people wanting to get flu vaccinations this year. Middle Park Health and the Grand County Public Health Office, as well as the pharmacies at Safeway and City Market, are offering flu shots for little to no cost.
Aside from getting the vaccine, Scheening encouraged people to wash their hands, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and sanitizing door knobs, phones, laptops, pens and any other shared items to help prevent spread. She also emphasized that anyone feeling unwell should try to stay home, and not just from work.
“Just being cleanly and having that proper (coughing) etiquette, and if you’re sick, don’t go to the grocery store, see if someone else can get your groceries for you, don’t go out to restaurants,” Scheening said.
Symptoms of the flu can often be very similar to a cold, but Scheening said the difference is usually that the flu is more intense and lasts longer. Symptoms include fever, coughing, congestion, aching muscles, fatigue and chills.
In the case that someone is experiencing these symptoms, Scheening said rest and hydrating are key and if it’s severe to see a doctor quickly, since Tamiflu, the anti-viral prescribed for influenza, is most effective within the first 48 hours of symptoms.
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