Now's the time for Coloradans to get a flu shot to protect themselves against the seasonal virus. The CDC recommends everyone six months of age and older should get a shot every year, ideally before the end of October.
Flu cases typically increase in the fall, and it takes about two weeks for the vaccination to take effect.
"Many people don't take the flu seriously enough, but every year, thousands are hospitalized with the virus," said Lynn Trefren, immunization branch chief at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "A flu shot is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones."
Here's what you need to know about flu shots this season:
*The CDC recommends only injectable flu shots this year. The nasal flu vaccine (FluMist) is not recommended this year.
*Some children 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses of flu vaccine four weeks apart. Ask your health care provider how many doses your child should get.
*People with egg allergies no longer have to wait 30 minutes after receiving a vaccine. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs can get their shot at any location offering licensed flu vaccines. People who have severe egg allergies (symptoms other than hives) also can get any licensed flu vaccine, but it should be given in a medical setting and supervised by a health care provider.
*Some flu shots protect against four kinds of flu and some protect against three. There also is a high-dose flu vaccine for people 65 and older that can create a stronger immune response. However, it's better to get the shot your provider has now rather than wait for a different product.
*Recent data suggests vaccine protection may wear off late in the flu season for people age 65 and older. However, since flu cases often start to increase in October, CDC recommends all age groups get the vaccination by the end the month for optimal protection.
"Healthy people usually recover from the flu," Trefren said, "but getting a flu shot keeps you from spreading the virus to people who may be more vulnerable." Those include people 65 years and older, children younger than five, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions.
Last year in Colorado, there were 1,639 hospitalizations and one pediatric death caused by the flu.
Visit the Health Map Vaccine Finder to find out where to get a shot.