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Flu Hospitalizations Up: 'Time To Get Protected Is Now'

By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) - Generally, Thanksgiving marks the start of the flu season, but that's not the case this year.

Since Aug. 1, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says 20 people have been hospitalized from the flu virus. They say that is twice the average.

"Seeing as that we are already seeing sporadic cases throughout the state, the time for people to get protected is now," said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

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Dr. Rachel Herlihy sits down with CBS4 Joel Hillan (credit: CBS)

She recommends getting the shot now because it takes two weeks for the vaccination to fully take effect.

Dr. Julian Orenstein, a Pediatric Emergency Physician at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, says he sees a lot of kids come to the emergency room every year with flu symptoms and that the flu vaccine is the best way to keep them out of the hospital.

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Dr. Rachel Herlihy

"I am always, absolutely firm: Parents should get their kids flu vaccinations and they should get flu vaccines themselves," said Dr. Orenstein.

Just like last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is only recommending the injectable shot, not the nasal vaccine.

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Dr. Rachel Herlihy

If your kids have never received a flu shot, Dr. Orenstein says they'll need two, spaced four weeks apart for the vaccination to be fully effective.

He also recommends the fundamentals: good hand washing, cover your cough, use your elbow and practice good hygiene.

During last year's flu season the CDPHE reported that 3,340 Coloradans were hospitalized with the flu. Two of those patients were children who died.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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