Get a flu shot this fall

Dear King County Employee,

Since the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States was recognized in King County just over 6 months ago, I have deeply appreciated the care and commitment to public service I see demonstrated every day by my fellow employees. Our response to the pandemic has been a tremendous effort, where the entire workforce has rallied during a public health emergency to take personal actions to stop the spread of the disease, while at the same time working hard to safely continue delivering critical services to our region.

As we head into fall, we in Public Health – Seattle and King County are acutely aware of the need to ensure we have the capacity in our health care system to treat an anticipated increase in COVID cases. Critical resources like ICU beds and emergency department staff must be available to treat COVID-19. To help relieve the burden on hospitals, flu vaccination is more important than ever. Flu vaccination prevents millions of flu illnesses and medical visits, tens of thousands of flu hospitalizations and thousands of deaths from flu in the U.S. each season. In addition, influenza and COVID-19 share many symptoms and it will be complicated to distinguish between the two. It’s in everyone’s best interest to prevent influenza illnesses that may be confused with COVID-19 and result in unnecessary isolation or quarantine and avoid preventable visits to a healthcare provider or hospital.

Today I am appealing to you to get a flu shot this fall. In addition to decreasing the number of activities outside the home, wearing a mask whenever in public and social distancing, getting a flu shot is one of the most important actions you can take at this point in time to stay healthy and aid in our community-wide response to the pandemic. The county makes it free for employees and anyone covered by your benefits to get a flu shot at one of our onsite clinics, or at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy. The Balanced You team is again organizing onsite flu shot clinics for those workers onsite. The schedule and more information about on-site flu clinics is here. If you are working from home, avoid a commute to a worksite by getting vaccinated at your physician’s office or local pharmacy. Information for telecommuters seeking a flu shot is here.

I want to reassure you of several things:

  • The flu vaccine is safe – you will not get the flu from the vaccine.
  • The flu vaccine is effective – it reduces your likelihood of getting the flu and is even more effective in reducing severe infections and hospitalizations.
  • When you get a flu shot, you also help prevent flu from spreading to others, especially those who are high risk for both COVID and flu due to their age or medical conditions.
  • For those of you getting vaccinated onsite, the Balanced You team is working with Get a Flu Shot social distancing, sanitation and other protocols that will make the experience safe.

On behalf of your partners in public health, we thank you for taking this action.

Jeff Duchin, MD

Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County