Flu season arrives in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

Flu season arrives in Steamboat Springs

Health care providers across Steamboat prepare vaccinations

Zach Fridell

Outlets like Safeway already have this year's flu vaccine in house and are offering shots.

— Flu season is here, and local health care providers are prepping their syringes.

The percentage of visits for flu-like illnesses typically begins a steep climb beginning in Sep­tember and doesn't calm down until December, according to statistics from the state health office. Several local health care providers already are offering flu vaccinations, and the region's public health agency will begin flu clinics in October.

The Northwest Colorado Visit­ing Nurse Association will give out vaccinations provided by the state in October. Spokes­woman Suzi Mariano said the VNA has not received the shipment of vaccines but that it's typical for their clinics to begin in October.

The VNA will charge a $14 administration fee for the shots, which can be given to anyone older than six months.

The vaccine changes every year to reflect the prominent strains of the previous year, and this year's vaccines being shipped across the country include the H1N1 strain.

Mariano said the flu season isn't expected to be any more severe than in previous years but that the VNA is recommending that everyone get the vaccine.

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Last year, the VNA gave 1,872 seasonal flu shots and 2,717 H1N1 shots in Routt County.

Other local pharmacies and health care providers already are experiencing demand for flu shots.

Steamboat Medical Group lead nurse Mary Dierdorff said her office has given at least 30 vaccinations and that walk-in appointments are welcome. She said the office also sets up clinics across town at businesses. Those will be starting soon, she said.

At Safeway, pharmacy manager Hark Casner said they have been offering shots to anyone 8 and older for about three weeks and have averaged eight to 10 per day. Safeway also offers high-dose vaccines for people 65 and older. He said people will have to wait in line for the shots, and he reported being busy during the day Thursday.

At City Market, staff pharmacist Brent Libby said they are offering shots to anyone 9 or older and that walk-ins are welcome.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not begin tracking influenza-like symptoms until the end of this week. During the 2009-10 flu season, from Aug. 30, 2009, to May 1, 2010, there were two reported hospitalizations attributed to flu in Routt County. Both were attributed to type-A flu, not H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Con­trol and Prevention recommends that folks get the vaccine as soon as it's available. While it recommends that everyone be vaccinated, the urgency is greater for pregnant women, children younger than 5, adults older than 50, anyone with chronic medical conditions, people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and anyone who lives with or works with people at high risk for complications from the flu.

People who should not get vaccinated without first consulting their doctor include those with severe allergies to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination, people who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu vaccination, children younger than six months and people with a moderate to severe illness that includes a fever.

Health care professionals often recommend the flu vaccination because it can help stop the spread of influenza, particularly once the onset of fall and winter force schools and companies to operate in closed-door environments.

Walk-in flu shot locations

Flu vaccines are available from most family physicians, and there are several walk-in locations across Steamboat Springs. They include:

■ City Market pharmacy

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Vaccinations are $25 and can be administered to people 9 and older.

Pharmacists recommend patients come during the week when more pharmacists are available to give the vaccination.

■ Safeway pharmacy

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Regular vaccinations are $28; high-dosage vaccinations recommended only for people over 65 are $57. Safeway can give shots to people 8 and older. Walk-ins are available but people must stand in the prescription line to get the shot.

■ Steamboat Medical Group

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

9 a.m. to noon Sunday

Vaccinations are $22 for cash payment, and prices may be different for insurance carriers. Steamboat Medical Group can give shots to anyone 6 months and older.

VNA vaccinations

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, the public health agency for the region, will begin giving vaccinations in October. The vaccinations are going to be provided by the state free of charge for the medicine. VNA will charge a $14 administration fee. Spokeswoman Suzi Mariano said the vaccination schedule has not been finalized.

VNA also is offering $14 adult immunizations for a limited time for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), HPV, varicella (chicken pox), pneumococcal (pnemonia), meningococcal (meningitis), TDAP (tetanus, diptheria, pertusis) and hepatitis A and B (hepatitis vaccines are for individuals with risk factors). To schedule an appointment call 970-879-1632 in Steamboat and 970-824-8233 in Craig.

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