The peak of San Diego’s flu season is weeks away, but health officials are encouraging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated now — especially those with chronic health conditions such as heart and lung disease.
San Diego County launched its annual influenza vaccine campaign on Friday in the Oak Park neighborhood of Southeast San Diego. Nearly 100 people were immunized at the free clinic.
“It’s great to see people getting vaccinated before the flu starts to spread,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer.
Wooten said the flu vaccine is safe, effective and life-saving.
“There is no risk of getting the flu when you get the flu shot,” Wooten said. “It is a killed virus so it is not possible to give you influenza. It does take two weeks for the vaccine to be effective.”
Last season, 87 people across the county died from complications from the flu, 19 more than the previous season.
This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against several strains of the flu including influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like and influenza B strains, Wooten said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 166 million doses of injectable flu vaccine will be available this season.
Wooten has also been out in the community over the past several months urging people to get the hepatitis A vaccine.
“It is perfectly fine to get both vaccines at the same time, in different arms of course,” Wooten said. “So we want people to do that. Particularly if it’s time for their second dose of hepatitis A.”
The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices and retail pharmacies. County public health centers will also offer the vaccine. For a list of locations, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.