Get a flu shot this fall

Dear King County Employee, In the past year, with so many people staying home, social distancing, and masking up, we saw very little influenza (i.e., flu) circulating. Because of this, some experts believe that when influenza does return, the season could be a severe one. Although we can’t predict with certainty when the flu will return or how severe it will be, it’s especially important to be prepared at this time.  Flu activity is low now in King County, but it’s important to be protected before it starts to spread in our area to give your body time to build immunity. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot every year with rare exceptions. Today I am asking you to get yourself and those living in your household vaccinated by the end of October.

Why flu vaccination is so important

For young children, older adults, pregnant people, people with conditions that compromise their immune systems, and even healthy people, a flu vaccine can be lifesaving.

Flu vaccination prevents millions of flu illnesses and medical visits, tens of thousands of flu hospitalizations and thousands of deaths from flu in the United States each season.

Hospitals in King County are nearly full as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. We need to do everything we can to prevent additional burden on the already strained local healthcare system. Flu vaccines can help prevent serious illnesses, hospitalizations, and death from influenza infection.

In addition, flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms and it will be complicated to distinguish between the two. Get your flu shot to prevent flu illnesses that may be confused with COVID-19 and result in unnecessary testing, isolation, or quarantine.

Wearing a face mask, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette will also help to prevent spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

Getting a flu shot is easy

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.

If you haven’t already been vaccinated for COVID-19, this is a good opportunity to get vaccinated ahead of the October 18 deadline for all King County Executive branch employees. It is safe to get a flu shot in the same time frame as a COVID-19 vaccine. King County flu shot clinics are separate from COVID-19 vaccine clinics, so you will have to schedule them separately. View the remaining dates for COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

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 serious illness because of their age or medical conditions.
  • When you get a flu shot, you are helping to prevent additional burden on the already strained local healthcare system as it addresses the highly contagious Delta variant.

For those of you getting the flu shot onsite at work, the Balanced You team is working on cleaning and sanitation, physical distancing, and other protocols to ensure the experience is 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