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Local doctors say flu season in Colorado peaked in May

Flu sick
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 12:26:39-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Doctors say Colorado is experiencing an unusual flu season this year. Typically the season peaks in December and January, but this year it happened in May. Doctors are also saying, if you got a flu shot last fall, it may not protect you right now.

Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention for UCHealth, says nearly 500 flu cases were reported a week in Colorado counties, in December of last year. Last month, in May, it tripled to nearly 1,500 cases per week.

“I’ve been in infection prevention for over 20 years, and I can tell you, I’ve never seen a flu surge in May. It's just not been documented,” said Dr. Barron.

Dr. Barron blames it on people fewer precautions to stop the spread of viruses.

“It was around the time when all the mask mandates went away. We had spring break, and then we've also had, you know, graduations and just everybody's catching up on gathering,” said Dr. Barron. “I think we just kind of shifted everything (the season) because a lot of the stuff we were doing to prevent COVID was actually preventing flu as well.”

Meanwhile a Colorado Springs doctor says he's also seen an increase in patients coming in to the office with respiratory illnesses.

“Definitely the past several weeks, we have seen lots and lots of respiratory infection. A lot of those are influenza, a lot of those are COVID,” said Dr. Vu, a physician at Matthews-Vu Medical Group.

Dr. Vu says, overall the flu season has looked different, since the pandemic began, and that fewer cases of influenza have been reported because of COVID-19.

“The last few years, we have seen a deviation because of COVID, and it’s because of social distancing, wearing masks, that we see lower level of influenza,” said Dr. Vu.

Dr. Vu also predicts that the flu and COVID-19 will be year-round viruses in the future.

“My prediction is that they will become a year-round infection that waxes and wanes throughout the year, and we will see them in both the summer and winter,” said Dr. Vu.

Meanwhile, Dr. Barron said since the peak of flu season in May, flu cases have been going down. However, she has a warning for anyone who got a flu shot last fall.

“It’s probably isn't effective. The reason we give it in early fall, is in anticipation that you're going to see most of the flu cases in December, January,” said Dr. Barron. “So, it's meant to optimize that protection. So this far out, you might have a little protection, but not not significant protection.

Both doctors say you can still get a flu shot now, and get one again when it's typically recommended in the fall._____

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