Californians are encouraged to receive the vaccine for seasonal influenza, now widely available in California, Dr. Gil Chavez, acting chief deputy director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), said today.
“This year both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu virus will be circulating throughout the United States,” Chavez said. “I encourage Californians to get a seasonal flu shot now and an H1N1 flu shot when it becomes available later this fall.”
Californians should contact their health care provider or local health department to obtain a seasonal flu shot.
“The seasonal flu shot will not protect you from the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu,” Chavez said. “It will, however, protect you from the seasonal flu strains that we expect this year.”
Seasonal flu shots are recommended for:
· Children age 6 months up to 19 years;
· Pregnant women;
· People age 50 and older;
· People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;
· People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
· People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
a. Health care workers;
b. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu; and
c. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months old.
In California, most seasonal flu vaccine is provided by individual healthcare providers, large employers and pharmacies. CDPH will ship 684,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine to local health departments this year for use at public flu shot clinics. The total includes 114,000 doses of Flumist nasal spray. There are no income or eligibility requirements to obtain the seasonal flu vaccine at a public health clinic. Local public health clinics may request a fee from participants, but cannot deny anyone flu vaccine because of his or her inability to pay.
This year’s flu season is expected to be more severe than normal, with both the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses in circulation. These strains will cause illness, hospital stays and deaths
In addition to getting vaccinated for the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus when vaccine is available, all Californians should practice the following prevention steps:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue in the trash after use.
· Stay home when you are sick and remain at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever.