Getting a flu shot helps protect us all from this virus

As summer turns to fall, it’s time to seriously consider getting a flu shot to help ward off that nasty seasonal infection that spreads like wildfire through our community, usually peaking in December or January. It’s important to get the flu shot now before the virus hits in full force because it takes about two months for your body to develop the maximum defense against the illness.

Once again, Lassen County’s Public Health Department offers several free flu vaccination clinics to ensure every county resident who wants to get a flu shot can get one. The “Operation Flu-Buster Clinics” begin with the drive-through clinic at the Lassen County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3. Other clinics will be held at the Big Valley Heath Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10; the Spalding Community Center from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12; the Westwood One Stop from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12; Susanville Supermarket from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15; Eskaton Lassen Manor from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17; the Susanville Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 (as part of the Senior Health Fair); the Fort Sage One Stop from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19; the Doyle Community Center from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19; and, at the Public Health Department Office, 14458 Paul Bunyan Road, Suite B, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information on these free clinics, call 251-8183.

Assuming this year’s vaccine is a good match against the viruses circulating this flu season, getting a flu shot means fewer people will come down with the disease because fewer people will be spreading it.
The dangers of the flu can be startling, especially for the elderly or those with chronic health issues. In fact, more than three-quarters of adults hospitalized with the flu have a chronic health condition such as diabetes or COPD.

Surprisingly, researchers report influenza infections can trigger cardiovascular events, and about twice as many people die from cardiac causes as opposed to influenza-induced pneumonia during flu season. Adults 65 or older are twice as likely to be hospitalized due to the flu, and 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in those 65 and older. Flu-related medical costs rose to more than $3.2 billion in 2015 and lost earnings and productivity for adults reached $8 billion.

Of course, there are those in the community who do not want to be vaccinated for religious reasons or due to other health concerns regarding the chemicals and preservatives used in the vaccines and the potential for worrisome health outcomes, especially for children. Others argue the flu shot weakens your immune system and the vaccine is not dependable because the producers just guess at what strains will be circulating.

Getting a flu shot, like every other medical procedure, has its risks, and everyone of us should weigh the potential benefit against the potential risks when we decide to get a flu shot or not. The only right answer is the one that is right for you and your family, and no one else should make that decision for you. Educate yourself, weigh your options and chart your course.

Should you decide getting a flu shot is the way to go, you won’t want to miss one of the free flu clinics offered by the Lassen County Public Health Department.

It’s so easy to get a flu shot, and it only takes a few minutes of your time.