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Flu shots now available ahead of flu season

From staff reports:

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is reminding residents that flu shots are now available, well ahead of the typical flu season.

The DOH recommends a flu vaccination for everyone ages six months and older. Particularly vulnerable groups include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, caregivers, and people with medical conditions ranging from asthma to neurological conditions.

Most health care providers, including pharmacies, already have vaccines available to their customers. The DOH notes that there are more vaccine options than ever before, citing the fact that the flu vaccine is available as a flu shot or a nasal spray. Some vaccines protect against four different strains of flu virus, while there's an egg-free version for people with certain allergies.

Walk-in flu shots are available at Virginia Mason Federal Way, 33501 First Way S., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Shots are available through the end of November to patients ages six months and older. FluMist is also available. Click here to learn more.

According to the DOH, the state continues to work toward the Healthy People 2020 goal, which is to have vaccination rates for the flu at or above 80 percent annually. Last year, only 47 percent of people in the state were vaccinated against the flu, the DOH reports.

Washington state bought approximately 754,000 doses of flu vaccines specifically for children. Children can get vaccinated at their regular health care provider, although some younger children may need two doses to be fully protected.

Health care providers may charge for an office fee and administration fee, although people who can't afford the fees can ask to have them waived.

Those interested in getting vaccinated can find locations by visiting www.doh.wa.gov and using the site's Flu Vaccine Locator feature. Also call the Family Health Hotline at (800) 322-2588.

"Flu seasons are unpredictable, so it's important to get your flu vaccine as soon as it's available, before people start getting sick," said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. "Getting flu vaccine now will provide protection throughout the season. It's not too early."

 

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