As the president of the state’s largest physician professional association, on behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank all Washingtonians for your efforts and sacrifices to beat our common enemy, COVID-19, by wearing your mask, washing your hands frequently and by social distancing.
Our next ask is this: Get your flu shot now.
This season, getting vaccinated early against flu is more important than ever. Here at the start of the fall cold and flu season, we are facing two respiratory viruses that present similar symptoms: one that’s new and has no vaccine, SARS-CoV-2, and the flu virus, which is a virus we do know and have protections against through vaccines that prevent or greatly reduce illness. We must all do our part to take flu off the table as we continue our fight against COVID-19.
As president of the Washington State Medical Association, representing 11,000 physicians and physician assistants across the state, I will be blunt. We are greatly concerned about this fall and winter season, and we must reduce the number of flu patients this year with timely immunizations. Preventing our medical system from becoming overwhelmed with the double whammy of flu and COVID-19 patients is all of our responsibility.
Even with masks and social distancing, flu can be unpredictable. Getting your flu shot is the first and best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu. Planning now to get your flu shot here at the beginning of the fall respiratory illness season means there’s one less thing for you and us, your doctors, to worry about.
A flu vaccine will also reduce your risk of ending up in a medical setting this fall and winter — and help conserve scarce medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.
Vaccination in consultation with your physician is always ideal, to ensure that you and your family are receiving other preventive services that may have been deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the flu vaccine is recommended for most people six months or older. And remember: Flu vaccines are safe. The most common side effect is a little soreness from the injection. Most are free of charge.
Flu vaccines are increasingly available at doctors’ offices and clinics, in local pharmacies and at flu pop-up clinics. At each location, trained staff is prepared to see you and are taking every precaution to ensure your safety.
To find a flu vaccine near you, visit vaccinefinder.org. If you have questions, please call your doctor, or a local urgent care or community health clinic.
This year, be safe, be sure, be a hero and get your flu shot.