Flu vaccine proving to be less effective so far this season; state’s first death reported

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DENVER -- The flu shot is proving to be less effective this year, and now the first flu-related death in the state has been reported.

Getting the flu shot can still decrease the severity of the illness.  But urgent care clinics and hospitals are seeing a lot more patients with flu-like symptoms. Across the state, the flu has sent more than 100 people the hospital and has killed one person.

If you got the shot, you can still get sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the current virus mutated, making this year's vaccination less effective.

Pueblo County reported the state's first flu-related death of the season Wednesday. Although details haven't been made public, CDC samples show this year's shot is only 48 percent effective against this strain. It's unusual and it has many families concerned.

"What does this mean for us is we're still better off to get it, but the most important thing to note for everyone out there is that if you develop flu symptoms, go to your doctor right away," pediatrician Kristin Woodward said. "You can avoid a flu-like complication such as hospitalization or pneumonia."

An antiviral medication such as Tamiflu can help. In Denver and across the state, doctors are preparing for a surge of flu cases. Flu season isn't expected to peak until early next year.

As a precaution, in Larimer County last week, classes were canceled at Centennial High School after students and staff got sick. Children younger than 2 years old and people older than 65 are the most at risk.