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Monday, December 14, 2020

Local health officials remind the community about the seasonal flu

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 5:09 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established National Influenza Vaccination Week—Dec. 6 through 12—in 2005. Although the week recently passed, it's not too late to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu.

Karim Henin, CVS' licensed district leader and pharmacist for the Central Coast region, told New Times that he and other health care providers strive to ensure that critical health care resources are reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19, which is why it's so important for individuals to keep themselves protected from contracting the seasonal flu.

click to enlarge SEASONAL REMINDER As the community continues to adapt to COVID-19, Karim Henin from CVS Pharmacy wants to remind everyone about the seasonal flu and the benefits of getting a flu shot. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CVS PHARMACY
  • SEASONAL REMINDER As the community continues to adapt to COVID-19, Karim Henin from CVS Pharmacy wants to remind everyone about the seasonal flu and the benefits of getting a flu shot.
“In addition, individuals who are at a high risk of contracting a respiratory illness, such as flu and pneumonia may also have a greater risk of complications if they contracted COVID-19,” Henin said.

The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older can receive the flu vaccine, and Henin said CVS Pharmacies can administer the vaccine for individuals three years and older in the state of California.

Henin said the flu vaccination is beneficial, and it's important to get it every year because the body’s immune system response to the vaccine declines over time. It takes up to two weeks for an individual’s immunity to build up after getting the flu shot.

“That’s why the CDC recommends that individuals make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall before the flu season begins and no later than the end of October, typically,” he said.

The flu season could last until the end of February or March.

In September, SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein urged residents to get vaccinated against the flu in order to “prevent a twindemic of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza.”

County health department spokesperson Michelle Shoresman said the call for vaccination still holds true today as flu cases usually peak in January for SLO County, so it’s never too late to get the vaccine.

“Especially in a time when COVID cases are increasing, we want to keep the incidence of flu down as much as possible,” Shoresman said.

According to the county health department, those at higher risk for severe flu include people 65 years and older, people who smoke or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes, pregnant women and children under 5 years of age, residents in long-term care facilities, and minority groups who are disproportionately affected by chronic medical conditions.

Nationally, CVS Pharmacies have already administered 9 million flu shots, which is approximately the same number as 2019 Henin said.

But it's ready to break the trend and see that number double as there are sufficient supplies for the public.

“Locally, within the Central Coast we’ve actually experienced the same national trend with a lot of our locations doing twice as much immunizations compared to the prior season,” Henin said. “That’s something that really brings joy to our hearts as pharmacists, because we’re about giving back to the community and the public that we serve understands the importance of receiving their flu vaccination.” ∆

—Karen Garcia
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