With everyone’s focus still so firmly fixed on the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts are warning families that we can’t afford to ignore a much more familiar threat. Flu season is approaching, and flu shots are more important this year than ever.
Because the flu can be a serious illness, public health officials are warning that hospital beds could become scarce and emergency services overwhelmed if both influenza and coronavirus transmission are high. Over the past flu season, 188 children and teens under 19 died of complications from influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typically, about 80% of children who die are not vaccinated.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a flu shot for everyone ages 6 months and older by the end of October. For those ages 2 and older, the nasal spray vaccine is also appropriate. Children 6 months to 8 years of age should receive two doses if this is the first time they are being vaccinated against influenza.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reminds residents that getting your flu shot is safe. All health care providers are taking steps to make sure that you are protected from COIVD-19 and other illness. Safety measures include separating appointment times for sick and healthy patients, masking requirements, additional disinfecting between appointments and physical distancing in waiting areas. Some clinics offer drive-through services, so you can get care without leaving your car.
When you go to get your flu shot, be sure to wear a cloth face covering, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from other people and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. If you are feeling sick, it is a good idea to stay home and away from other people; consider getting tested for COVID-19.
To locate a flu vaccine near you, call your doctor, go to a local pharmacy, or visit to www.vaccinefinder.org. To find free or low-cost flu shots through the county, search out your nearest LA County Public Health Clinic. The Los Angeles County Library will also be hosting flu clinic events this season Los Angeles County Library Free Flu Immunization Clinics.
Beyond getting vaccinated, you’re probably already taking most flu-prevention precautions. They are much the same as the measures we’re all employing to stay safe from COVID-19. Avoid large gatherings, maintain social distance of at least 6 feet from people not in your household, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently or use hand-sanitizing gel that is alcohol-based. Stay home and away from others if you are sick.
With common-sense precautions and your flu shots, your family will be safer from illness this fall and winter.