The 2021-2022 flu season is officially underway, and Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) warns that this season could be more active than last year.
In 2020, the flu season was mild, with no pediatric deaths and just 34 hospitalizations in Colorado. However, our mild flu season is likely to change this year because many of the COVID-19 precautions that also kept flu activity low in 2020, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, are more relaxed, possibly resulting in a more active flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible to get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. “You can only imagine how sick you’d feel having both viruses at once. Having one is enough to cause severe illness,” explains Allison Sanchez, Public Health Clinic Manager at MCPH. “Last year, we didn’t have a COVID-19 vaccine available for most of the flu season. This year, we have effective vaccines available for both viruses.”
Flu clinics are for people of all ages, with special considerations for children. Flu vaccination is typically covered by insurance, and if you do not have insurance, you qualify for our vaccine program, significantly reducing the cost. Don’t let cost be a barrier, we have options.
Saturday, October 16th from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. (open to all ages)
Saturday, October 23rd from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. (open to all ages)
Community Services Building Parking Lot, 510 29 ½ Road
WHAT TO BRING:
Insurance card* – if you have it, if not, don’t worry!
You can get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, and The MCPH COVID-19 vaccine clinic will also be open during flu clinics. Residents who want to get both vaccines at the same location at the same time may do so by going inside our building during the drive-thru operation for a COVID-19 vaccine. Registration for COVID-19 vaccination can be found here.
*COVID-19 vaccinations do not require identification or insurance.
Prefer an appointment?
The MCPH Clinic offers flu vaccination during regular business hours – Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. If you would like your flu vaccine outside our drive-thru flu clinic hours, an appointment is needed. We urge all residents who want to get a flu vaccine to come in and see us or give us a call at 970-248-6900 with any questions.
Seventy-four positive cases of COVID-19 were reported to Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) on October 22. That number is nearly double the previous record (44) which was recorded the day prior.
Although it took four months for Mesa County to reach 100 cases, this week 118 cases were reported in a 48-hour period. The increase we are experiencing is not gradual, and not showing signs of plateauing. The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases has prompted MCPH to take action to ensure our community can continue to track, treat, and isolate cases of COVID-19.
“Mesa County’s positive cases have significantly increased over the past month. Most of this is due to informal gatherings between friends and family, and people showing up at work and other places while sick, in some instances resulting in sizable outbreaks,” Mesa County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. Each member of our community can help reduce transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. We must all take action to slow the spread of illness. MCPH urges all residents to:
AVOID confined spaces
AVOID close contact
If you are in a situation where these three things cannot be avoided, wear a mask as well as in public indoor settings as required by the current Executive Order.
With case counts exceeding levels allowed, and because mitigation strategies have so far not shown a decrease in cases, Mesa County will move to the ‘cautious’ level on the State of Colorado’s dial. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment assigns levels based on the number of cases in a two-week period, percent positivity, and hospitalizations, all of which are trending upward. Under this new system implemented at the state level, each county is evaluated using key metrics. Communities move between levels based on these metrics.
MCPH and the Mesa County Board of Health are working to draft a local public health order, which will be in effect upon approval.
Since the norovirus-like illness that impacted our community around the Thanksgiving holiday, Mesa County Public Health has been monitoring illness to an even greater degree than usual. As a result of that enhanced monitoring, we have been made aware of increased illness at least one local school heading into Winter Break.
The reports we received of increased illness were on Thursday (12/19) and Friday (12/20). The symptoms are similar to what we saw in November, with most cases reporting vomiting. In addition, there are also reports of fever with this illness. As of this (Friday) afternoon, District 51 schools are out of session for Winter Break.
Mesa County Public Health is concerned about the spread of illness into our community. This time of year, the chance of getting sick increases as we all gather together. To remain healthy, we’re asking our community to take steps to prevent the spread of illness.
We hope these recommendations help ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
To prevent the spread of illness to other people it is very important we all:
REMAIN HOME If someone in your family is ill and has symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, and/or a fever, they should stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms end.
These types of illnesses typically run their course but watch for symptoms of dehydration which include: sunken eyes, dry mouth and tongue, increased thirst, skin that goes back slowly when pinched, and a decrease in volume of urine.
KNOW THE RISKCertain groups are at a higher risk of illness, and if you’ve been around someone who’s been sick there’s an increased likelihood you could get sick, too. Many illnesses have what’s called an incubation period, an amount of time between when you’re infected and you actually have symptoms. Keep that in mind, and if you’ve been around or cared for someone who’s been sick, consider limiting interactions. You could be contagious and spreading illness, even when you don’t feel sick yet.
WASH HANDS Ensure that all members of your household wash their hands often, especially after using the bathroom, cleaning, changing diapers, or before preparing or eating food.
Cover all parts of hands with soap, rub lathered hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, and thoroughly rinse hands with water.
A hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol can be used if soap and water are not available, but washing with soap and water is best.
DISINFECT Some of these illnesses can be difficult to get rid of and particles can live on surfaces for weeks, even months. When you’re cleaning, disinfect using a solution of one cup of regular strength bleach in one gallon of water. Be sure to clean surfaces that are commonly touched like doorknobs, light switches, or remote controls.
CONSIDER A FLU SHOT Mesa County Public Health recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get an annual flu vaccine. Influenza is prevalent this season in many areas of the country, including Colorado. A flu shot is your best protection against severe complications that can arise from influenza. The Mesa County Public Health Clinic, located at 510 29 ½ Road, has flu vaccine available and serves all patients regardless of ability to pay.
CONTACT PUBLIC HEALTH The public vomiting line remains open and allows Mesa County Public Health to follow up with facilities where public vomiting events occur to ensure proper cleanup. To report an incident of public vomiting online click here or call 970-462-7074.
CONTACT A DOCTOR These recommendations are intended to help prevent the further spread of illness, not serve as a diagnosis or medical advice. If you or your child is sick, and you have questions about the symptoms or illness, you should contact a healthcare provider.
Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) continues to monitor illness in our community, and while initial indications from student absence reports from D51, community illness reports, and data from visits to primary care providers give us reason to believe the illness is dwindling, we are still seeing reports of gastrointestinal illness, and a handful of incidents of public vomiting. The levels of illness we are seeing, however, are in line with what we would expect to see this time of year.
These types of illnesses are very common. The rapid spread and large number of people impacted was unique with this outbreak, but viruses like this are around all the time. They typically peak in the winter months when we are all together indoors or other confined spaces. The highly contagious viruses can spread very quickly from person to person as we saw with this outbreak, and the sudden onset of vomiting with this virus made it more widespread than usual.
For your health and the protection of everyone, you should stay home from work or school and keep your kids out of child care if you or they are sick. In addition, MCPH recommends disinfecting high touch surfaces; make sure to do this after you’ve been sick, but sanitizing your surroundings with a cleaner effective against norovirus on a routine basis never hurts, as these types of viruses can live on surfaces for weeks.
Perhaps the most effective way to stop the spread of illness, and to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. Studies have shown that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related sicknesses. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. But whenever possible, wash your hands with soap and water. When you wash:
Wet your hands with clean running water, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
Scrub for 20 seconds. How long is that? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song, twice.
Rinse your hands under running water.
Dry using a clean towel or air dry.
In addition, it is influenza season and flu activity is increasing across the country. There has already been one person hospitalized due to influenza, or the flu, in Mesa County. Statewide, more than 150 hospitalizations have occurred already this season. Unlike the gastrointestinal illness that impacted our community, there is a vaccine available to protect against the flu. MCPH recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year. Our clinic, located at 510 29 ½ Road, has vaccine available, walk-ins are welcome for flu shots, no appointment needed.
Mesa County Public Health and D51 ask families to make sure students are illness-free before returning to classrooms to ensure the virus circulating in our community is not reintroduced in our local schools.
After the closure of all schools in D51 prior to the Thanksgiving break due to illness, the district has deep cleaned and is ready to welcome students back to class. This illness outbreak was due to a highly contagious virus acting a lot like norovirus. The illness moved so quickly, there were active reports of vomiting in more than 30 schools when the district made the unprecedented decision to close.
Over the break, a deep clean occurred at all D51 buildings to stop the spread of illness, but the virus remains in our community. Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has confirmed a norovirus outbreak at a long term care facility and received numerous reports of people getting sick in public places days after the closure of the schools.
MCPH recommends parents know and look for symptoms in their kids. For this illness, symptoms to watch for are:
Mainly vomiting, with a very sudden onset
In addition, viruses like this usually come with a feeling of being worn down or overall tiredness. While we know tiredness can be difficult to measure or quantify in certain age groups, we ask that you don’t send your child to school if you think they may have been exposed to the virus or have any current symptoms. If your child has been sick, do not send them to school until at least 24 hours after their symptoms end. There is an incubation period of anywhere between 12-36 hours after coming into contact with the virus to the time you show symptoms.
Mesa County Public Health will continue to work with D51 to monitor both student and staff illness as well as the overall community impacts from this outbreak.