SAN LUIS OBISPO — In an effort to prevent a “twindemic” of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza, the San Luis Obispo County Health Officer urges residents to get vaccinated against the flu.
“Flu will hit our community soon, and in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, getting the flu vaccine will be more important than ever,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “Getting a flu shot is an easy and safe way to keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy.”
Getting vaccinated is the best defense against the flu. In California, flu activity usually begins to increase in late November or December. It takes a couple of weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity. Flu can look very similar to COVID-19 as it can cause fever, cough, body aches, chills, and other symptoms. If you have flu symptoms, you will likely have to get tested for both COVID-19 and influenza.
Health officials recommend the annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older. Those at higher risk of getting severe flu disease include:
- People 65 years and older.
- People who smoke or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, lung disease, neurologic disorders, and weakened immune systems.
- Pregnant women and children under five years of age.
- African Americans, Latinx and Native populations who are disproportionally affected by chronic medical conditions that can increase the risk for severe flu or COVID-19.
- Residents in long-term care facilities.
SLO County residents can get the flu vaccine from their regular health care provider, many local pharmacies, or Public Health Department clinics by appointment. The flu shot is covered by most insurance, including Medi-Cal. The County will also host free drive-thru flu shot events on Oct. 21 in Atascadero and Arroyo Grande.
Besides getting immunized, individuals can stop the spread of germs every day by staying home when sick, washing hands often, wearing a cloth face covering in public, staying at least six feet from others outside of your household, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. To learn more about flu and the flu vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.