Bay Area Health Officials Encourage Public to Get Vaccinated Early in the Season
Public Health Departments around the Bay Area are announcing that influenza season is beginning. Because the flu is unpredictable and the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective, San Mateo County health officials urge everyone six months and older to get vaccinated early in the season. It’s important to get vaccinated prior to the circulation of influenza in your community. Ensuring timely flu shots can prevent a disease that hospitalizes 200,000 Americans every year.
“The flu vaccine is safe and effective and is the most important tool against the spread of influenza in San Mateo County,” said Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health System Health Officer. “It is not only important to get your flu vaccination but also to make sure your friends and loved ones get it too. Protecting those you love is key to success.”
The vaccine keeps you protected for many months, but not forever. Also the strains of influenza change over time, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year. While everyone six months and older should get vaccinated, it is especially important for pregnant women, children younger than five, adults 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
In addition to getting the vaccine, health officials advise individuals to take the following steps to protect themselves and loved ones from influenza.
- Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue.
- If you do not have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. People at higher risk of severe disease who show flu symptoms should contact their medical provider. Medical providers may prescribe antiviral medications that reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu.
Residents are encouraged to contact their health care provider to get their flu shot. The vaccine is also available at pharmacies, retail stores, and is offered by some employers. The San Mateo County Health System is also hosting free walk-in clinics, with no appointment necessary. For locations and dates, see smchealth.org/flu.