Now that fall is here, the Oregon Health Authority wants Oregonians to know we could be headed into a bad flu season.
The season for flu generally starts around October and can continue into the spring.
The pandemic had a large impact on last year’s flu season. We were staying physically distant, wearing masks and staying home when we could. We had a record low for flu cases in 2020 with only a handful of postive tests for influenza out of thousands that were given.
Things may be different this year.
We have COVID-19 vaccines to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. As a result, many of us have changed our habits. Some are wearing masks less often, eating in restaurants, going to movies and concerts, playing sports and gathering at each other’s homes. Most kids are back at school in person.
All these activities can increase the risk of flu transmission, especially among people who have not had the flu vaccine. In fact, the biggest driver of flu transmission is school-age children.
The good news is that there is a vaccine to protect against flu, and it can be given to children as young as six months old.
You can get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID vaccine, so if you’ve been putting off getting your vaccines, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about scheduling your flu vaccine at the same time as you get the COVID-19 vaccine.
All available flu vaccines in the United States this flu season are quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines that are designed to protect against the four flu viruses that research indicates are most likely to spread and cause illness among people during the upcoming flu season. If you don’t have a health care professional you regularly see, you can find flu vaccines at many places, including health departments and pharmacies.
September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. Some people with chronic conditions should not get vaccinated against the flu. Please consult your doctor if you have questions.