The flu is not just a major headache or miserable aches and pains; for many it is a serious respiratory illness that can cause severe complications, even death for vulnerable populations. While a healthy person might experience flu as an inconvenience, that same person can pass the influenza virus to a highly vulnerable person (young child, older adult, person with a chronic disease, etc.), resulting in hospitalizations for many people. Year to-date in San Joaquin County, Public Health Services has received reports of two influenza outbreaks in long-term care facilities, three flu hospitalizations in intensive care, and one flu death of a person under 65 years of age.
Health officials recommend that everyone six months and older should be vaccinated annually to prevent influenza illness in themselves and others.
“Getting a flu vaccine is the single most effective way to prevent the flu, but it doesn’t stop there,” said Dr. Alvaro Garza, San Joaquin County Public Health Officer. “Everyone can help prevent the spread of flu by washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.”
When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu virus spreads through the community. It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. Go to https://www.vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you where you can get vaccinated. Simply enter your zip code or city and state to find mapped locations of flu vaccine clinics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
Reasons to get a flu vaccine:
Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick from flu.
Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
A 2014 study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74 percent during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
Another study published in the summer of 2016 showed that people 50 years and older who got a flu vaccine reduced their risk of getting hospitalized from flu by 57 percent.
Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
Vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had a cardiac event in the past year.
Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79 percent) and chronic lung disease (52 percent).
Vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated also protects the baby several months after birth.
A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness in pregnant women found that vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by about one half.
Another study found that babies of women who got a flu vaccine during their pregnancy were about one-third less likely to get sick with flu than babies in unvaccinated women. This protective benefit was observed for four months after birth.
Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.