Flu season outlook: Hospitals already seeing influenza cases

DENVER -- The flu season is around the corner, but state health officials are already seeing influenza-related visits at hospitals. 

Last year, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment officially started surveilling the virus on October 2. Health officials said 20 cases of the influenza virus have already been reported this year. That's double what it was this time last year. 

Infectious disease control researchers in the Denver metro said they can predict what the flu season will look like here based on what's happening in the southern hemisphere.  

"Australia, where most of the data has been validated, they saw two and a half more flu cases this year than they did last year," said CU professor Michelle Barron.

That means it could be an active season.

Barron has been researching the virus for over a decade. Vaccines and medications have come a long way over the years, but what can help you is a flu shot. 

Doctor Rachel Herlihy with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment said people should start to get the shot now. 

"We've seen more H3N2 virus and that virus does seem to impact our older population," Herlihy said.

If that trend continues, it's possible that seniors will be affected the most this year.

You should keep in mind, once you get the shot, it takes two weeks for it to work. Herlihy said you can feel a little sick after, but the biggest myth out there is that the shot can get you sick.

"Really that just shows you the vaccine is working, the purpose of the vaccine is to simulate your immune system and so sometimes you can get mild headaches and aches and that's due to your immune system responding to the vaccine," Herlihy said. 

The flu shots are updated annually since the virus is always changing.

If you got a flu shot last year, you should get another one for this year. 

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