With 3 months to go in the flu season, Kaiser Permanente is urging everyone to get their free vaccination either at their doctor’s office or by visiting one of many participating retail pharmacies.
Luckily the flu has not yet been recorded in any significant way in Northern California Kaiser Permanente membership. And even though the fears of a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19 have dimmed somewhat, if you have not gotten your shot, it is time to do so.
“Just because flu isn’t around right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be,” said Randy Bergen, MD, clinical lead for the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Flu Vaccine Program. “Flu likes to circulate in the winter. It’s good news that it isn’t here now, because we have enough trouble with COVID-19, but there are still 3 months left in the official flu season, so people who have not yet received the flu shot should get it.”
Members who have not yet received their vaccinations should do so through March 31. Members also can get a free flu shot at many retail pharmacies including Costco, CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, Walgreens, and Walmart. All they need to do is show their member card and photo ID.
“Just because flu isn’t around right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be.”
For children age 2 and older and teens under age 18 who don’t like the idea of needles, they can get the flu mist sprayed into the nose. Parents can simply request the flu mist when they arrive.
About 2 million members in Northern California have taken advantage of the flu vaccination clinics so far this year, which is a modest increase over last year at the same time, Dr. Bergen said.
He said measures taken to prevent COVID-19 have cut down on flu transmission.
“The social distancing, mask wearing, and all the hygiene measures we are taking such as handwashing are making a difference,” Dr. Bergen said. “Those, combined with the fact that many schools are closed, are helping reduce flu. Kids usually get the flu in schools, then spread it to their families.”
Nonetheless, Dr. Bergen emphasized that there’s no time like the present to get that flu shot.