With flu season officially underway, El Paso County Public Health is launching a new influenza data dashboard to enhance its standard weekly flu reporting with new data visualizations.

This new dashboard is designed to provide easy access for the public to timely and relevant local flu data.

The latest dashboard, which will be updated weekly by close of business on Mondays, captures a weekly snapshot of flu activity in the community, including flu hospitalizations and pediatric deaths, which are reportable per Colorado law to local public health agencies.

To view the flu data dashboard, visit elpasocountyhealth.org/flu-prevention.

To date, one flu hospitalization has been reported in El Paso County this flu season; no pediatric deaths have been reported.

“We are excited to offer this new resource for the public and our community partners,” said Natalia Gayou, epidemiologist for El Paso County Public Health. “In addition to COVID-19, tracking respiratory illnesses like flu is critical to efficiently monitor and identify disease trends in the community. It’s important to note that flu hospitalizations and pediatric deaths only capture a snapshot of disease activity representing the most severe illness.

“We know that flu is circulating, and it’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones,” Gayou said.

Although flu season is different every year, with an unprecedented early start to the season, Public Health anticipates an increase in respiratory illnesses this season.

“We are urging anyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu shot,” Gayou said.

The interactive dashboard gives weekly updates on flu hospitalizations and pediatric deaths in El Paso County throughout the 2021-2022 influenza season and compares the trends from previous flu seasons.

Although flu cases can occur year-round, flu season commonly begins as early as October and can occur as late as May.

“The new dashboard will offer local information about flu trends in El Paso County,” said Susan Wheelan, director of El Paso County Public Health. “In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, our goal continues to be providing the public with credible data and information to help people make informed decisions for themselves and their families and to provide easily accessible resources such as flu vaccine.”

Although symptoms of both the flu and other respiratory illnesses can look similar, it’s important to note that there are different tests to identify these illnesses.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, contact your doctor so they can run the appropriate tests, which will help them provide more effective treatment if needed.

The flu usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)

Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including COVID-19 and the common cold, can have similar symptoms.

Those most at risk for developing flu-related complications are children under 2 years old, the elderly, pregnant women and with chronic respiratory disease or who have weakened immune systems.

Getting the flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu. The vaccine is safe and effective.

Public Health recommends these four steps to prevent the flu:

Get vaccinated against the flu.

  • Stay home if you are sick with flu symptoms. Keep kids home if they are showing signs of illness. You should not return to work or school until 24 hours after a fever ends without the help of fever-reducing medicines.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands.

Flu vaccine is available at El Paso County Public Health. For more information, visit elpasocountyhealth.org or call 719-578-3199, option 5.

El Paso County Public Health’s mobile vaccination van is also available to provide flu shots at worksites, schools, community events and more. To request a van at your location, please submit this form.

To locate a flu vaccine near you, call Pikes Peak United Way’s 2-1-1- information and referral hotline or visit vaccinefinder.org.