With flu season just around the corner, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined Los Angeles County’s top health officials at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in urging the public to get vaccinated.
“During the 2014-2015 flu season, Los Angeles County had several deaths associated with the flu – 54, according to the Department of Public Health (DPH),” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “The importance of getting a flu shot cannot be overstated.”
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, with symptoms including fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. It is associated with about 200,000 hospitalizations nationwide each year.
Annual flu shots are recommended for all persons 6 months of age and older, including healthy children and adults, but particularly for those who:
- Are 50 years of age and older
- Are pregnant or just had a baby
- Are morbidly obese
- Live in a nursing home or long-term care home
- Have a weakened immune system or chronic medical condition (diabetes, heart or lung disease)
- Live with or care for someone who is more likely to have flu complications
- Are a healthcare provider.
“Taking a few minutes to get a flu shot can prevent unnecessary illness and death,” said Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the Department of Health Services, just before getting a flu shot himself.
Dr. Katz added the vaccine is particularly imperative for healthcare providers, saying, “protecting ourselves, we can protect our patients.”
DPH medial director, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, also got a flu shot to set an example for his fellow healthcare providers.
“I call on all my colleagues who work in hospitals and long term care facilities – whether clinical providers, cafeteria workers, or volunteers, whoever has contact with patients – to get vaccinated,” Dr. Gunzenhauser said.
Many doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies are already offering flu vaccinations. So are pharmacies and some community clinics. DPH will offer free flu shots at its public health centers and community vaccination events throughout Los Angeles County this fall.
“Getting immunized dramatically decreases your chances of contracting the flu, but so many people choose not to get a flu shot,” said Patricia Castillo, campaign director for SEIU 721, which represents county and city health employees.
“Getting the shot is easy, safe and barely hurts at all. It’s free for our SEIU health care workers and low cost for the public. The time to get a shot is now, before the season hits its peak.”