County of San Luis Obispo health officials urge community members to get vaccinated against the flu at their earliest opportunity before flu season takes hold in SLO County.
Officials say getting the flu vaccine is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, both to prevent illness and inconvenience for individuals and to protect local health care system capacity.
“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu is to get vaccinated, and that’s why we are urging all community members to get their flu shot as soon as possible,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer. “An increase in cases of the flu could lead to an added strain on our local hospitals as they respond to a surge in COVID-19.”
All community members six months and older should get their annual flu vaccination by the end of October to ensure maximum protection and to prevent spreading it to others. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness and serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death.
Those at higher risk of getting severe flu disease include:
• People 65 years and older.
• People who smoke or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, lung disease, neurologic disorders, and weakened immune symptoms.
• Pregnant women and children under five years of age.
• African Americans, Latinx and Native populations, who are disproportionately affected by chronic medical conditions that can increase the risk for severe flu or COVID-19.
“Even in less-serious cases that do not require hospitalization, flu can be both miserable and inconvenient,” said Dr. Borenstein. “If you have flu symptoms, you will likely need to get tested for both COVID-19 and influenza and isolate until you get the results.”
Flu shots are widely available at no cost from local pharmacies and health care providers. It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccination and flu shot during the same visit. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.RecoverSLO.org/Vaccine.
To get your flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine at a Public Health clinic, visit myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255 to choose your location, time, and vaccine type. To find other vaccine providers, visit myturn.ca.gov or VaccineFinder.org.