What Can We Do About the Flu?
Flu season is upon us, and it is important to be prepared. There have been some questions around the flu and flu vaccine since the COVID-19 pandemic began, so let’s take a look at a few.
Why haven’t we heard about the flu since the pandemic began?
There are multiple reasons. One main reason we had such a mild flu season last year is because of the public health measures we had in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 and flu are both respiratory diseases, so the reduced travel, social distancing, masking, and other similar measures protected us against the flu too. A lot of health issues were also overshadowed by COVID-19 in public discussion because of its impact, but rest assured, those in public health continued to evaluate and address these issues.
If there was hardly any flu last year, should our community worry about immunity this year?
It is extremely hard to predict a flu season’s severity, however a few things have changed from last year that could increase spread. Kids are back to in-person school, international and national travel has increased, and people are gathering and attending events more.
I’m not worried about getting the flu so why should I get a vaccine?
We hear this often, and we get that it’s easy to feel this way. We need to remember that health is a community issue, not an individual issue. From secondhand smoke to bullying, one person’s choices can impact other people’s health. Vaccination is another great example. By getting a flu vaccine, we can safeguard our hospital system from being even more strained with respiratory infections. We can protect babies under 6 months old, immunocompromised individuals, and other unvaccinated community members at high risk for severe flu symptoms. We can also help our children avoid any illness that would keep them from in-person learning and connection.
What does flu vaccination cost?
Most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare part B, cover the cost of the flu vaccine for adults. If you do not have insurance, you may still be able to get the flu vaccine at no cost. Call CHAS Health at (509) 444-8200 and ask about their flu vaccine program or ask your pharmacy about available discounts. Children aged 18 and under in Washington can get a flu vaccine and other recommended vaccines at no cost. The provider may charge an administration fee to give the vaccine. You can ask them to waive this fee if you cannot afford it. For more information, visit KnockOutFlu.org.
Where can I get a flu vaccine?
You can visit your local doctor’s office, pharmacy, or clinic event in your area. Check with your employer or school, because some offer the vaccine to employees and students. Go to VaccineFinder.org or call the Help Me Grow Washington hotline at 800.322.2588 (language assistance available) to find a flu vaccine location near you.
Can I get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. According to guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, at the same visit.