This year, it’s more important than ever to get a seasonal flu shot as early as possible.

Recent projections from Colorado public health experts indicate that the next surge in COVID-19 is likely to coincide with the start of the 2020-21 flu season. That’s why Dr. Amie Meditz, infectious diseases specialist at the Beacon Center for Infectious Diseases, urges: “As soon as you are able to get the vaccination, you should do so. It should not be delayed.”

For the upcoming flu season, flu vaccination is important to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the community and the local health care system. Dr. Meditz explains: “With the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in Boulder County, it more important than ever to seek vaccination for other preventable diseases, particularly influenza, because it offers the best way to minimize the number of patients seeking treatment at Foothills Hospital, our urgent care centers and our emergency departments.

Seasonal flu vaccinations are now available at Boulder Community Health clinics. To schedule a convenient time to receive a flu shot, contact your BCH primary care clinic or call 303-415-4015 to schedule an appointment.

Here are three ways you and your family can avoid influenza this season:

1. Everyone should get a flu shot (excluding children less than six-months-old, someone with a life-threatening reaction to one of the ingredients of the vaccine or an individual with a history of Guillain–Barré syndrome)

It takes your body about two weeks to develop a response to the vaccine, so earlier vaccination is key.

“Remember that when you get a flu vaccine, you are also protecting those around you who may be harmed by the flu,” says Dr. Meditz, stressing that adults over 65-years-old, anyone with a chronic medical condition, pregnant women, and health care workers are at particular risk for more severe illness and complications relating to influenza.

2. Stop the spread of germs. You can do this by washing your hands with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick people, and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

Of course, the same precautions that reduce your potential exposure to COVID-19 also apply to other respiratory illnesses, including flu. These include handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask.

3. If you do come down with the flu, your primary care provider will help you decide if you would benefit from an anti-viral medication. If you are prescribed an anti-viral drug, make sure to take it as directed by your doctor.