In December 2011, the number of hospitalized flu patients in Colorado was only 32 for the season.
The Center for Disease Control is encouraging anyone who has not received a flu shot to do so, endorsing the 2012-2013 vaccination as a successful preventative treatment.
"Vaccination is the safest and most effective tool we have to prevent influenza," said Lisa Miller, Colorado state epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health and Environment. "Everyone older than 6 months should receive a flu vaccination annually."
In addition to 244 hospitalizations (the state tracks the number of people hospitalized with influenza), two pediatric deaths associated with influenza also have been reported, one in Denver County and the other in Jefferson County. The two deaths occurred between mid-November and mid-December. Both children were under age 3, and one had underlying health conditions. In previous years, anywhere from 0-12 pediatric deaths have occurred.
The CDC reports, based on limited testing thus far, the 2012-2103 vaccine is well-matched to influenza strains circulating nationally this season.
"There is an abundant supply of flu vaccine available in the state," said Dr. Miller. "You first should check to see if your doctor has vaccine available. This way, your doctor can document your vaccination. If your doctor is not offering vaccinations, they are readily available at a variety of grocery and drug stores."
Two children under 3 years old have died this year from influenza, both cases happened between mid-November and mid-December.
To help protect yourself and others from flu, CDC recommends the following:
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- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Denver Post)