As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious health threat, Pasadena residents are also facing another risk: the flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that seasonal flu can cause severe illness, hospitalization, and death, especially for those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.
Everyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination every year, preferably by the end of October, the CDC said. The flu vaccine can reduce the chances of getting sick, spreading the virus to others, and developing complications from the flu.
This is especially important for people who are at high risk of flu-related complications, such as young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease, the CDC continued.
Dr. Shital Arya, the medical director of Huntington Health Physicians, said that getting the flu vaccine is a crucial step to protect oneself and the community from both the flu and COVID-19.
“We are seeing an increase in COVID cases in the community. Summer travel and the new school year have been excellent carriers of germs for children and adults alike,” Arya said. “Flu season is just around the corner too, so we are encouraging our patients ages 6 months and over to get the flu vaccine. Both the flu vaccine and the COVID booster offer protection from serious illness and hospitalizations.”
Dr. Kimberly Shriner, the medical director of infection prevention and control at Huntington Health, said that the flu season could bring a surge of respiratory viruses in general, as seen last year when COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and flu converged.
“We are closely watching international data and trends as we approach flu season. There is a risk that we will experience an increase of respiratory viruses in general,” Shriner said. “Our best measures are to follow the infection prevention protocols we have learned; frequent handwashing; stay up-to-date on all vaccines and boosters; and if you aren’t feeling well, please stay home to rest and recover.”
Huntington Health has announced they will be offering free flu shots at multiple locations in Pasadena, Altadena, San Marino, and South Pasadena starting this weekend and through September and October. These sites are open to the public, and no reservations or insurance are required.
To be eligible for the free flu shot, you must be at least 18-years-old, or giving consent for your child ages 9-17 years, must have no allergy to eggs or the influenza vaccine and no history of the Guillain-Barré syndrome, not have a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection, and not have any COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms.
Free flu shots begin on Saturday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the Latino Heritage Parade and Festival near City Hall. For the full schedule of free flu shot sites, visit www.huntingtonhealth.org/our-services/infection-prevention/flu-information or call (626) 397-3376.
According to the CDC, flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people may have no symptoms but still be contagious.
The CDC advises people who have flu-like symptoms to stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. They should also avoid contact with other people who are sick and cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow.
The CDC also urges people who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible, as it can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
For more information about flu prevention and treatment, visit www.cdc.gov/flu or call 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
For more information about COVID-19 prevention and treatment, visit https://www.cityofpasadena.net/covid-19 or call (626) 744-6000.