LOS ANGELES – As shoppers storm the malls this holiday season, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) wants to remind residents, that it is not too late to get an influenza (flu) vaccine to prevent getting the flu. In honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Public Health highlights the importance of flu vaccinations as the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications.
“The holiday season is here and we’re encouraging everyone to spread holiday cheer, not the flu,” said Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Interim Health Officer for Los Angeles County. “A person with the flu can spread it as far as 6 feet away, through coughs and sneezes, so holiday travel and events can offer chances for exposure. By getting vaccinated now, you can be protected at the time of year when you may be most likely exposed to the flu virus. Also, remember to wash your hands often with soap and warm water and to stay home when ill to help reduce the spread of the flu to others."
The flu can spread easily through coughs, sneezes and contact with infected surfaces. Flu symptoms usually start suddenly and may include fever, coughing, sore throat, headaches, body aches, chills, runny or stuffy nose, extreme tiredness, and weakness. Most people get better without treatment, but some develop serious complications such as pneumonia, seizures, and worsening of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. In California, influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths have been reported this flu season.
Influenza Vaccination Recommendations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu every year. Flu vaccines are important for everyone, especially for people who are at greater risk for complications and those who live with or care for these individuals. These groups are:
- Pregnant women
- Children who are younger than 5 years of age
- Adults who are 65 years of age and older
- People of any age whose immune system is weakened and those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or conditions affecting the nervous system
- People who are overweight or obese
- People who work or live in nursing homes or long- term care facilities
- Health care personnel and child care workers
As a reminder, some children who are 6 months through 8 years of age should receive a second vaccine dose this flu season for better protection. Parents/guardians who are not certain whether a second dose is due should ask their child’s health care provider.
Influenza Vaccination Resources
Residents are encouraged to contact their regular healthcare provider to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccination. Most insurance plans cover vaccines at no cost to the patient. Many pharmacies also offer flu vaccines and some can bill your insurance company. Public Health also offers no-cost flu vaccines at centers throughout LA County for residents without health insurance or a regular source of health care. No appointments are needed, but residents should check clinic hours before traveling to a Public Health Center.
Visit http://bit.ly/FluVaccineInfo for:
- An interactive map of pharmacies offering flu vaccinations
- A list of Public Health Clinics and community clinics offering vaccines at a reduced or no-cost
- Flu educational materials
- Flu-related surveillance updates and data
Residents may also call the LA County Information Line at 2-1-1 for referrals to flu vaccination sites.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do please visit www.publichea lth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube. com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at www.faceboo k.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.