Health experts say flu vaccine more effective this year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Health experts in Colorado say the flu vaccine appears to be more effective this year than it was last year.

According to the Colorado Department of Health, nearly 1,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu so far this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting flu activity is widespread in the state.

“The reason for more hospitalizations is really unknown,” said Nikki Price, the director of pharmacy operations for Albertsons Safeway pharmacies.

Even though flu season is already in full swing, Price said it’s not too late to get your vaccine. She said she’s seen more people coming in to get flu shots this year compared to last, and she thinks that’s because flu season was so bad last year.

“The benefits of getting a flu shot are not only that you protect yourself, but you’re protecting others around you too,” Price said. “Even though you may have never had the flu, you’re a healthy individual, really by getting it, you’re protecting others. So what we like to say, ‘It’s really not all about you.’”

Price said flu season normally starts around October or November and can last until March or April. She said flu season was a little delayed this year and didn’t start until December.

“In terms of whether the flu season has peaked or not, we really don’t know,” Price said. “A lot of it’s dependent on how many people are protected, how many people are getting it and how many they’re exposing others to.”

A lot of people make excuses not to get a flu shot, according to Price. She said one of the common reasons she hears is because people believe the flu shot can give them the flu.

“That’s certainly not the case. That is a myth out there,” Price said. “You may have a little arm soreness. You may have a little low-grade fever, little achiness a day or two after getting the flu shot. That’s just your body reacting to it and building that immunity against the flu, but that’s not the full blown out flu.”

Some ways to prevent getting the flu include getting the vaccine, washing your hands often and getting a lot of rest during flu season.

Price said some people confuse the flu with a common cold, but there are differences you can spot.

“Some of the differences between the flu and the cold is really the fever that really differentiates it. So with the flu, you’re going to have a high-grade fever, 101 degrees or higher. With a cold, about 100 degrees and lower, if at all,” she said. “You still may have a cough and congestion. With the flu, it’s much greater congestion, especially in your chest.”

Price said the flu shot is free with most insurance. If people get their vaccine at a Safeway, they will get a 10 percent off coupon for their next grocery purchase.