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State health officials push for Colorado residents to immediately get flu vaccine

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October 15, 2020, 8:45 am

State officials are strongly urging Colorado residents to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to offset the potentially devastating impacts of people being infected with both viruses at the same time or a flu outbreak that could adversely impact Colorado hospitals already seeing a fall surge in coronavirus cases.

Here’s the press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

Colorado health experts: Flu vaccine more important than ever this year

REMOTE, Oct. 15, 2020 – This is an especially important year for Coloradans to get the flu vaccine — for themselves and the people they love — and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is offering information and tools to find nearby free providers.

“We recognize that Coloradans are feeling the strain from all the things they do daily to prevent COVID-19,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. “This is one more important step to help keep yourself and your loved ones safe during these challenging times.”

“The flu vaccine is safe and is offered at no cost at participating providers for those who are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, CHP+ and most other health insurance. Those without any insurance also can also get the flu vaccine for free at certain providers,” Hunsaker Ryan added. “Providers, including doctors’ offices, clinics and pharmacies, are working extra hard to make sure you can visit them safely.”

CDPHE has launched a statewide education campaign to highlight the importance of the flu vaccine as influenza season begins. FluVaxColorado.org offers information about the flu vaccine and a feature to find nearby providers.

CDPHE is working to build on recent progress in expanding the percentage of Coloradans who receive the flu vaccine annually. 

In the 2019-20 flu season, 55.6% of Coloradans six months or older received the flu vaccine compared to 51.8% nationally, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. This reflected the second year in a row with increasing Colorado vaccination rates, but there is much room for improvement.

Among children ages six months to 17 years, 70.9% received a flu vaccine in the 2019-20 flu season compared to 51.4% of Colorado adults. 

Flu vaccination rates for young children (six months to four years old) were 83.2% and adults aged 65 or older were 76.2%.  This is important because young children and seniors are at higher risk for severe flu complications.

CDPHE notes that everyone six months or older should get the flu vaccine every year, with rare exceptions.

The department stresses:

  • The flu vaccine is safe and offers the best way to prevent getting influenza, a serious disease. Health providers are taking extra steps to ensure people can safely get vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time could lead to more serious complications. 
  • Flu cases could add to the demands on hospitals if they face a surge in COVID-19 and influenza cases — while also complicating care for hospital patients.
  • Just like with COVID-19, if you have the flu you can spread it to other people who are at higher risk. Higher-risk people include seniors, young children, pregnant women, and those with some chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. 
  • Tens of thousands of Americans died from the flu in 2019-2020, and more than 3,500 Coloradans were hospitalized with the flu last season. 

“We’ve got enough challenges without adding the risk of getting the flu,” Hunsaker Ryan added. “This simple, safe and affordable step can help you and your loved ones stay safe.”

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