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This week’s cold weather serves as a reminder that the flu season is right around the corner. And after a flu epidemic last year, health experts spent months preparing for this year. And they say they’re ready.
Employees at the El Paso County Health Department are joining forces with other local health care providers to fight the flu this winter.
Last year, the flu hit early and hit hard with over 1,300 cases of influenza in El Paso County. “Last year was difficult, but it's one of those years you can't predict and we won't be able to predict what this year looks like this year either," says Kandi Buckland.
But what they were able to do is prepare. "VNA, Memorial Hospital, Penrose Hospital and the Health Department came together just to really communicate and to make sure we were coordinated in our efforts to control influenza," says Buckland.
Last year a shortage of the vaccine left people scrambling for a shot. This year there is expected to be plenty of flu vaccine. But some parents still have unanswered questions about the flu.
The Health Department says, when kids under the age of 9 get vaccinated for the flu for the first time, they're supposed to get two shots one month apart. But last year, during the epidemic, lots of parents brought their kids in for the first shot but then never came back for the second one.
So, what should you do? Staff at the Health Department say this year, those kids will only need one flu shot.
The health experts also hope a full schedule of flu shot clinics and plenty of public education will keep this flu season from being as bad as last. "We're ready. I think we have all the pieces in place. Of course, we can't predict if it's gonna be a mild year or a heavy year," says Buckland.
There is a new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control this year. Officials say all kids who are between 6 months and 23 months old should get a flu shot.