This Year's Flu Vaccine Is 'Essential,' Health Officials Say

SEATTLE, WA — As another flu season approaches, with the coronavirus still in our midst, state health officials are urging all Washingtonians to get a flu shot as soon as possible.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, autumn brings with it another unwanted visitor -- the flu," the health department wrote Tuesday. "The presence of both viruses could put more people in the hospital and strain Washington's health care system. While we don't yet have a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, we do have one to prevent flu."

Flu shots are encouraged for everyone aged 6 months or older, and especially for young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with underlying health conditions, including:

  • Asthma

  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injury]

  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)

  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)

  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)

  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)

  • Kidney disorders

  • Liver disorders

  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)

  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)

  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

  • People with extreme obesity (body mass index of 40 or more)

The flu is highly contagious and in some cases can cause severe illnesses, hospitalizations and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of flu-associated deaths are among adults ages 65 and older.

"Think of it as essential to get a flu vaccine this year," said Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state health officer. "We should all get a flu vaccine now to help protect ourselves and our communities as we navigate this pandemic together."

In Washington, vaccines are available for free for all residents under 19. Flu shots are often available at school-based health centers, even while classes are held remotely, including at nearly three dozen campuses in King County. The Seattle Visiting Nurse Association is also organizing a series of drive-thru flu clinics, including two planned in Kent in October.

Find the nearest available flu shot clinic near via the vaccine finder.

Learn more about this year's flu season on the state Deparment of Health website.

This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch