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Influenza - For Patients

Influenza - For Patients

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Getting your flu shot at the beginning of the fall respiratory illness season is an easy and safe way to reduce your risk of getting the flu and reduce your risk of needing flu-related medical care, which will conserve scarce medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.

This year, be safe, be smart, and get your flu shot.

When to get your flu shot

Health officials recommend getting your flu shot as soon as possible to provide the fullest protection from the flu—and to help prevent a health system surge.

Where to get your flu shot

Vaccination in consultation with your physician is always ideal, to ensure that you and your family are receiving other preventive services that may have been deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, however, with new options being made available due to the pandemic, what's most important is that you get vaccinated in a manner convenient for you and your family. Flu vaccines are increasingly available in local pharmacies, in flu pop-up clinics, and physician offices and clinics. At each location, staff are prepared to see you and are taking every precaution to ensure your safety.

Most flu shots are covered

Flu vaccine for those age 19 and older is covered by most insurance companies and by Medicare and Apple Health (Medicaid). Washington state also provides flu vaccine, and all recommended vaccines, at no cost to everyone under the age of 19.

Flu vaccine now available for uninsured adults

The Department of Health is collaborating with Safeway and Albertsons to offer free flu vaccinations for uninsured adults. Twenty-three Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies across the state will offer flu vaccine free of charge through June 2021. The pharmacies will not charge an administration fee, and no proof of residency or immigration status will be required. Find the list of participating locations on the department’s website.

"I'm wearing a mask and social distancing, so I don't need a flu shot"

It's important this fall for patients not to get complacent, even with social distancing and masks. Flu can be unpredictable, and there's a lot we don't know about the upcoming flu season. We strongly urge you to get your flu shot as early as possible.

The flu can be very serious—and a vaccine is available

Flu is a very serious illness. Its symptoms will likely create a lot of anxiety in patients because of their similarity to those of COVID-19. While we don't yet have a COVID-19 vaccine, the flu vaccine is here and it's available. For most people, a flu vaccine will take one virus off the table, giving you one less thing to worry about.

Flu + COVID-19 = double trouble for our health care system

If both viruses are circulating in our communities unchecked, there could be an enormous strain on our ability to test, diagnose, and devote limited resources like hospital beds. Reducing flu through vaccinations will help reduce the number of flu patients in our health care system—and help better detect and manage COVID-19 in our communities.

Protect yourself—and protect others

Getting your flu shot not only protects you, but it protects others, especially those who are more vulnerable, including infants, seniors, and those with chronic medical conditions. If more people get vaccinated early, the more we can prevent the flu from spreading throughout the community.

Fight the flu—and keep fighting COVID-19

We must not get complacent with either the flu or COVID-19—so get your flu shot, keep wearing your mask, and keep social distancing.

Flu vaccines in brief

  • Each year, the flu vaccine protects against those flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.
  • Flu vaccines cannot cause flu.
  • Flu vaccines are safe. The most common side effect is a little soreness from the injection.
  • Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor's visits each year. During 2018-2019, flu vaccination prevented an estimated:
    • 4.4 million influenza illnesses
    • 2.3 million influenza-associated medical visits
    • 58,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations
    • 3,500 influenza-associated deaths.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
  • Flu vaccine can be lifesaving in children.
  • Flu vaccination may reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.

Learn more on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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