Officials encourage flu shots as vaccine becomes available statewide

September 16, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011

The flu vaccine is available statewide, state health officials announced Thursday, as flu season approaches.

The state Department of Health also encouraged people to get a flu shot before flu season hits. The illness is a serious disease and can be unpredictable. People can spread flu before they even know they have it, and up to a week after getting sick.

“Flu vaccine is the best way to protect all of us,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “We should get a flu shot every year.”

The agency provides flu vaccine to all people younger than 19 at no cost, although health care providers may charge a fees for the office visit and to administer the vaccine. People unable to afford the fees can ask health care providers to waive the cost.

Flu vaccines only protect recipients for the current season, so a yearly vaccination is important. Furthermore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend for everyone 6 months of age and older to get a yearly flu vaccine.

Find vaccination providers from Public Health – Seattle & King County or call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Certain people face a greater risk for flu: children 5 and younger, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, health care workers and caregivers, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, neurologic conditions and diabetes.

Because babies younger than 6 months cannot get a flu vaccine, parents, siblings and caregivers should be vaccinated. Children up to age 8 may need two doses of flu vaccine, about a month apart, for the best protection.

Using good health habits — such as washing hands, covering cough, and staying home when sick — also help prevent the spread of disease, including flu.

The state’s light-hearted WashYourHandsingTon campaign reminds people to practice these healthy habits. Download the free WashYourHandsingTon ringtone for your mobile phone on the Department of Health Flu News website.

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