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State health officials remind public flu vaccinations still available
With the Pacific Northwest well in the grips of winter weather, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is reminding residents that flu vaccinations are still available and easily accessible.
The reminder comes in the wake of the death of a woman in her 50s in the Tri Cities area who was confirmed to have died from flu-related issues.
“Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself and avoid spreading the flu to others, especially people who may be more vulnerable,” said State Health officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. “There are many options of the flu vaccine this year. Ask your health care provider about which one is best for you and your family.”
DOH notes that flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older, and that it’s especially important for groups who are considered “high risk” to receive the vaccine: children, people 65 and over, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions.
Some children under age 9 may need two doses of the vaccine, about two months apart. In Washington state, the flu vaccine is available for free for all children through age 18. The DOH added that most health plans cover flu vaccinations. For more information, the DOH recommends calling the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.
There is also a “flu vaccine finder” on DOH’s website (www.doh.wa.gov), although DOH notes that many health care professional’s offices offer the vaccine, along with local pharmacies and some health agencies throughout the state.