PeaceHealth released a press release recently urging people begin preparing for the flu season, noting it’s difficult to predict what each flu season will bring.
Officials with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) advise flu activity can be expected to soon be picking up and the new vaccine for the 2019-2020 flu season is now widely available.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity in the US often begins to increase in October or November and peaks in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can continue as late as May.
The flu vaccine takes up to 2 weeks to provide full protection and only protects against flu strains, not against colds or other viruses that may show similar symptoms.
“First and foremost, getting the influenza vaccination is the best way to avoid or decrease symptoms of influenza,” Raymond Belarmino, MPH, CIC, CPHQ, infection prevention manager at PeaceHealth is quoted as saying in the press release. “You should always cover your cough — ideally with your inner elbow — and practice good hand washing. Social distancing is also important. If you are sick, stay home; if you must be around others, consider wearing a mask.”
Ferndale area locations where the flu vaccines are being provided include
Flu vaccine is a covered benefit provided at no cost every year through most insurance plans for adults over the age of 18 and is also covered by Medicare part B.
All children in Washington may receive flu vaccines and other recommended vaccines, at no cost through age 18. Providers may charge a fee to give the vaccine, called an administration fee, but you can ask for this fee to be waived if you cannot afford it according to DOH.
This year’s seasonal flu vaccine is quadrivalent, according to PeaceHealth, which means it’s designed to protect against 4 different flu viruses: 2 influenza A viruses and 2 influenza B viruses. The viruses in the shot are inactive which means you cannot catch the flu from the vaccine and the vaccine is also preservative-free.
In order to prevent others—especially the medically vulnerable—from coming down with the flu or other contagious illnesses, Belarmino stressed it is important for anyone with any symptoms to refrain from visiting PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. These symptoms include fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, sore throat, headache, redness or swelling of the eyes, diarrhea, runny nose or vomiting.