Summit County stresses importance of flu vaccines in new marketing campaign

Summit County public health officials are urging people to get their flu shots to help prevent overwhelming the county’s health care resources during the pandemic.
Summit Daily/Eric Drummond

FRISCO — Summit County officials are stressing the importance of getting a flu vaccination this year by adding a sixth commitment to the county’s current “five commitments of containment.”

The sixth commitment will be included in the safer-at-home public health order, which the county plans to extend once it expires Aug. 31. At a board of health meeting Thursday, Aug. 20, county officials discussed the new commitment, which encourages people to get vaccinated for flu and for COVID-19, once a vaccine is available. 

The six commitments, which the county is now referring to as the “safe six,” are as follows:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Stay 6 feet apart
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Get tested if you’re sick
  • Get a flu shot

So far, the five commitments have been effective in helping prevent the spread of the virus, and adding the new commitment will reinforce the need for a flu vaccine, public health spokesperson Nicole Valentine said. 

“We now anticipate with the opening of schools as well as ski resorts that this could lead to an increase in transmission of the virus,” she said. “This coupled with the annual flu season certainly has the potential to place strain on our hospital resources.” 

In the 2019-20 flu season, 3,544 people were hospitalized with the flu in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Summit County had seven hospitalizations in the same flu season, Valentine said. 

Symptoms of the flu are also very similar to symptoms of the virus: cough, headache, fever, chills, body aches, sore throat and nausea. Getting vaccinated for the flu is a good way to prevent confusion about those symptoms, Valentine said.

“The flu vaccination is more important than ever this year,” she said. “We need to do everything that we can to reduce the incidence of flu in our population while we’re working to combat COVID-19. We don’t want to overwhelm our health care system.”

In addition to including the sixth commitment in the new public health order, the county will update its website, send out flyers and create stickers for the “safe six” campaign, Valentine said. 

“These strategies are so important to our ongoing efforts to keep our Summit County residents healthy and safe and to keep our economy running,” she said. 

One of the goals of the campaign is to encourage people ages 20-29 to follow the six commitments. While everyone is susceptible to the virus, the people in that age group account for 111 of the county’s 346 total cases, according to the county’s coronavirus webpage.

At the meeting, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said the county has received its flu vaccines for the winter. 

“Certainly pharmacies and health care providers are starting to get their flu vaccines in, so people should start making appointments and getting that done,” she said. 

In preparation for the upcoming flu season, the county also plans to include a drive-thru vaccination center. While the county initially planned to have the drive-thru center in the parking lot next to the medical office buildings on Peak One Drive in Frisco, the cost to have a stable tent or structure for the clinic was too high, County Manager Scott Vargo said. 

Now, the county plans to have the drive-thru site at the county’s transit bus barn at the industrial park at County Commons in Frisco. Vargo said the drive-thru will start with COVID-19 testing in October and transition into providing the flu vaccination and eventually the COVID-19 vaccination. 

“Our intention right now is to do some drive-thru testing in the month of October,” he said. “That will be a great test scenario for flu vaccine and COVID vaccine in the future.”

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