Flu season has gotten off to a slow start in Southwest Colorado, but in recent weeks, more residents have started to get sick.
Residents visiting health care providers have tested positive for the flu, and some have been hospitalized, said Samie Stephens, southwest regional epidemiologist with San Juan Basin Public Health.
However, Stephens said the peak of flu season from December through March is yet to come, and it’s unknown what the season might hold.
“Flu is very unpredictable,” she said.
Different types of the flu can be more severe than others, and right now, a variety of viruses are circulating, she said. The most common virus going around is the H3N2 strain, which can be more severe than other forms of the flu, Stephens said.
However, across the state, 30% of patients hospitalized have had influenza B, which typically doesn’t happen until the end of the season, said Nisha Alden, respiratory disease program manager with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Residents are encouraged to get a flu shot to help a case of the flu be milder and lower the risk of hospitalization. Flu shots can also help residents manage a chronic disease that could be made worse by the flu and protect residents who are unable to get vaccinations, Alden said.
A flu shot takes up to two weeks to become effective, and patients may feel achy, Stephens said.
“This is just your body reacting to the vaccine; it isn’t giving you the flu,” she said.