The Eagle County Public Health Department is warning residents of an increase in severe cases of influenza in recent days, including five hospitalizations and one flu-related death. Officials are urging everyone who has not yet had a flu shot to get vaccinated.
The vaccine is available from local health care providers, clinics and pharmacies throughout the county and most health insurance plans cover the cost of a flu shot. The vaccine is also available at all three county public health locations. Contact the office nearest you to schedule an appointment:
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Symptoms can include fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. So far this season, H1N1 is the most common flu circulating throughout Eagle County and the state. The strain disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults. This year’s flu vaccine includes protection against the most common flu strains including H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over 6 months of age get a flu shot.
While vaccination provides the greatest protection against the flu, Public Health Director Jennifer Ludwig says it’s also important to take additional preventative steps to avoid spreading the illness, including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and keeping a reasonable distance from those who are sick.
Individuals with mild flu-like illness should stay home. Children with a fever should not go to child care or school and adults with a fever should not go to work until they have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing medications. Individuals with severe symptoms or those at risk for complications from the flu should seek the advice of their health care provider.
In addition, Eagle County Public Health is partnering with FluNearYou.org to create a real-time disease tracking system to assist in flu prevention. Community members can aid in the effort by visiting www.flunearyou.org/eaglecounty
For more information on the flu, visit www.eaglecounty.us/flu.