We are approaching the flu season. The good news is that there is ample vaccine available for all who want to be vaccinated and most insurance companies cover costs for flu vaccination. Also, the seasonal flu vaccine available this year protects against the H1N1 flu as well as other flu strains expected to be circulating.
Many pharmacies, chain grocery stores, and other medical providers in our community now have the seasonal flu vaccine and are ready to administer it. You can find community locations where flu vaccines are available.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu vaccine each year. This is because flu viruses change each year and flu vaccines differ from year to year in order to protect against the types of flu most likely to be circulating.
Although everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine each flu season, getting a flu vaccine is especially important for those at greatest risk of having serious flu-related complications or those that live with or care for such people including:
1. Pregnant women
2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
3. People 50 years of age and older
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
• Health care workers
• Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications
The Public Health Department will have a limited number of seasonal flu clinics that are open to seniors over the age of 60. These are scheduled at sites across the county from November 4 through November 30. The schedule for the senior flu clinics is available on-line (PDF) at www.sbcphd.org/iz or by calling the Santa Barbara Public Health Department seasonal flu hotline at 1-866-608-1408.