Flu arrives in Mesa County

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- It’s that time of the year: flu season. And with all the holiday traveling, the bug is traveling, too.

Health officials say the peak of the flu season is just around the corner, but there’s still time for you to avoid it. Flu cases are already starting to bubble up across the valley, and the CDC says this could be the worst year for the flu since 2009.

Terri Potente of Fruita believes in the power of a flu shot every season.

"I got a very mild case of it several years ago, and I think it would have been much more intense if I hadn't got the shot," she said.

However, Potente is concerned for her husband, who doesn't believe in getting the shot.

"I worry a little bit about it, I don't worry much about myself but I worry about him [husband], because I feel like I have good immune system," she said.

Only a few days into the New Year, the flu is already starting to make an appearance here in the Grand Valley.

"Well we are starting to see flu here in Mesa County, and it has been kind of an earlier season in the south and the east and that is coming our way" said Community Hospital Vice President of Ancillary Services Debbie Riggle.

Spreading influenza is common among schools and work, so even if you haven’t been vaccinated, Riggle said it’s still a good idea even though the flu has officially arrived.

"Influenza of course there is also a vaccination remember it takes two weeks to gain immunity so now would be a great time to get vaccinated if someone is not."

Although the flu shot might sting a bit, that sting will help prevent multiple flu strains and days of feeling bad.

"It is vaccine preventable, so it is something we want people to be aware of and we encourage people to do so" said Karen Martsolf of Mesa County Heath and Human Services.”

Community Hospital officials are also stressing the importance of another vaccine as they’re seeing a high level of pertussis or whooping cough cases. Those symptoms are similar to influenza and may be just as contagious.

Health experts say it’s important to drink a lot of fluids, cover your cough, and wash your hands frequently to help avoid spreading the flu.