Every year, as summer rolls into fall, the time for flu shots rolls around as well.

The flu vaccines are coming soon and we will make announcements the moment we have more information.

In the meantime, we already know (based on the calls — and unfortunately we cannot schedule your shot until we have the vaccines in house) many of you have the intention to get your flu vaccine. That’s great news.

This year, with the continued COVID pandemic, it is more important than ever to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza. One reason: Having a population vaccinated for the flu will keep more hospital beds available for those who will require high level care during the respiratory illness season.

Once again, it’s about capacity and flattening curves.

– Eric Johnson, MS, FNP-BC Family Nurse Practitioner

What the flu is and what the flu is not:

The flu is not: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, (commonly called stomach flu).

The flu is: a respiratory virus that typically circulates in North America as early as October and lasts through May. It’s a primarily lower respiratory (lung) illness characterized by high fever, cough, nasal congestion, body aches, and headache.

The flu can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Severe cases of influenza can lead to hospitalization and death. 

Influenza is caused by a virus, therefore, antibiotics are not helpful in treating the flu.  

There are two types of influenza, Type A and B. Every year the specific circulating strains change and the annual vaccine is formulated to match those strains. This is why a yearly flu shot is needed and recommended.

Influenza can be a serious illness, particularly in children and older adults. Currently there is minimal influenza activity in the United States, meaning this is a good time to get immunized.

Every year an average of over 200,000 people are hospitalized with influenza and some years this has reached almost a half a million hospitalizations. Additionally, up to 49,000 deaths can occur annually from influenza, mostly in the elderly, persons with serious medical conditions, and the very young. This makes it vitally important for the people who are around those individuals to be immunized to protect those vulnerable persons.

Anyone can get the flu and it’s the elderly, very young and those who are immunocompromised, or have health conditions like asthma; COPD; cancer; and heart disease that are at an especially high risk for complications.

Influenza virus spreads by respiratory droplets created when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

These droplets can spread up to six feet away. Most healthy adults can infect others one to two days before symptoms develop and 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means we can spread the virus even before we know we are sick.

Where can you get a flu shot?

You can make an appointment at the Telluride Medical Center for an upcoming flu clinic, or you can visit any major chain pharmacies.

We will submit the cost of the flu shot to your insurance. If you do not have insurance or it is not a covered benefit, the cost of the flu shot is $25 again.

Healthy Habits to Live By

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep a social distance from everyone outside your household. 

  • Stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. Read Dr. Diana Koelliker’s “Four Rules,” on how to know when to stay home here.

  • Wear a mask in public spaces. 

  • Cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.

  • Wash your hands frequently.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson | MS, FNP-BC
Telluride Regional Medical Center