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October 20, 2022 4:00 PM

Recommendation of the Health Officer: Flu Vaccinations

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It is strongly recommended that all Sonoma County law enforcement, fire, and EMS employees receive the flu vaccine this year. If the flu vaccine is declined, a medical grade mask should be worn while interacting with the community, or while working indoors.

In the United States, seasonal flu usually occurs during the fall through early spring. Influenza, or the flu, is a serious contagious disease that can be prevented. Every year in Sonoma County, flu infection leads to hospitalizations and deaths. Data from 2010-2016 of seven flu seasons in the United States show that the average flu season has 708,000 hospitalizations from the flu each year and 12,000-56,000 deaths caused by the flu each year.  In California, 119 people died from an influenza infection during the 2021-2022 season.

Anyone can get flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

The good news is that the flu vaccine is safe and effective in reducing the likelihood of catching the flu, as well as reducing the likelihood of severe disease or hospitalization in someone who is infected. It is safe to get a flu vaccine at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.  Individuals can further reduce their risk of flu by wearing a mask, handwashing, and staying home when sick.