Flu Season Arrives Early, Mesa County Sees High Rates
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Though the flu season usually peaks in February, areas across the United States are reporting a rise in the common virus and the Western Slope isn't escaping this increase.
Officials say if you look on the map, most of the cases in Colorado are on the Front Range. But nine people in Mesa County have already been hospitalized this flu season, and it has only just started.
“Peak season generally starts in January, but it can last until March,” said Cindy Dearden, flu coordinator at VA Medical Center.
Surprisingly, that period has already arrived in Mesa County, without experts knowing why.
“Nobody knows because flu season varies every single year,” said Dearden. “So it did start early this year and it’s more severe than it has been in probably 10 years.”
It's so severe that, according to officials, our county has already seen over 370 people diagnosed with the virus since the end of December.
“We still have more than 2,400 flu shots in our pharmacy and we ordered an extra thousand so we are prepared,” said Paul Sweeney of the VA Medical Center.
The VA has given out more than 6,000 shots already this year, which is more than they gave out in total last year.
“I just don’t want to spread it around to my family,” said Jason Pavilanis, a veteran who received his flu shot. “So I decided to protect myself and come here and get a flu shot.”
“Even though it isn't 100 percent effective, it’s about 80 percent effective, and it is still our best defense,” said Dearden.
Any veteran who walks through the door at the VA Center is eligible to receive a free flu shot from the clinic.
Experts say the young and those older than 65 can come down with the flu a lot more easily than a healthy adult. However, they warn that you can still pass it along to others for a full day before you show any sort of symptoms.