Flu season gets off to slow start

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The flu season in Montezuma County has been slowed due to the warmer weather health experts are saying.

Dave Mortensen, director of pharmacy of infectious disease control for Southwest Memorial Hospital, said there has not been much of a flu season to date, but that could always change.

“It depends,” he said in discussing when people normally start coming down with flu syptoms. “It is more prevalent during the colder months of the year.”

The flu season normally runs from the beginning of October to the end of March with flu shot vaccine normally available starting in September.

No one has yet been hospitalized with the flu this season.

Mortensen recommends residents to get flu shots and it’s not too late.

The Montezuma County Health Department, 106 W. North St., is offering flu shots for $25 on Mondays.

The walk-in clinic is available from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., while appointments are available from 1 to 6 p.m. Payments can be made with cash, check or through Medicare/Medicaid.

The antibodies to the illness take about two weeks to form after getting the flu shot.

Mortensen pointed out that the state of Colorado for the first time ever mandated that all health care providers need to be vaccinated in an attempt to lower the number of flu cases with the only exception being those who are allergic to the vaccine.

Mortensen said the type and dosage of flu shots vary with the elderly over the age of 65 receiving stronger levels because they are more susceptible to the virus and are also more likely to suffer more complications.

The pharmacy director also said people with asthma or other respiratory problems are more likely to come down with the virus as well.

During a regular flu season, the CDC said about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The seasonal flu season in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

Mortensen said there are other measures that can lesson the chance of catching the virus, though nothing compares to receiving a flu shot.

“The best prevention obviously is the flu shot,” he said, and added hand washing and good hygiene are good practices for all viruses, not just the flu.