Concerned about protecting yourself or your family during the upcoming flu season? The state Department of Health and that flu vaccines are available in this state.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot. Those who are vulnerable to flu are young kids, people 65 and older, pregnant women, parents of newborns, and people with medical conditions like asthma and other lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and neurologic conditions, the health department reported.
People can ask their providers for different types of flu shots, the state reported, including a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older, a nasal spray vaccine for healthy people ages 2-49, and a vaccine with a smaller needle than regular flu shots.
This season’s flu vaccine protects against three different strains of flu virus, the state reports. It doesn’t protect against the newer H3N2 variant virus that is showing up in other parts of the country, which mostly have been from direct contact with pigs at county fairs. There are no reported cases of H3N2 in our state, according to the health department.
“Now’s the time to get a flu shot so you’re protected all season long,” said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes, in a prepared statement from the Washington State Department of Health. “Vaccine is the best protection we have against the flu. Getting it now, before people around you start getting sick, will protect you through the flu season, which usually peaks in January but starts earlier.”
Free shots for kids
The Department of Health bought more than 721,000 doses of flu vaccine for kids. All recommended vaccines, including whooping cough, are provided at no cost for Washington children through age 18. The department also bought Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine for uninsured and underinsured adults.
Health care providers may charge an office visit fee and an administration fee to give the vaccine. People who can’t afford the administration fee can ask to have it waived. Many health plans cover flu vaccines as preventive care. To find a health care provider or immunization clinic, contact your local health agency or the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. Information about flu and flu vaccine is available on the DOH's website.
Tips for not spreading flu or whooping cough:
- use good health manners
- wash your hands
- cover your cough
- stay home when you’re sick
*Editor's Note: Informtion provided by the Washington State Department of Health.