The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reminds the community that flu vaccination, along with COVID-19 vaccination, is critical in reducing the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the community. The updated, more protective flu vaccines and COVID-19 boosters are available broadly for those eligible. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommend that all people six months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year. It is also critical for everyone ages 5 and up to receive the updated COVID-19 booster if it has been two months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, regardless of the type of dose received.
Respiratory infections, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), are on the rise in California, including here in Santa Barbara county. Persons with RSV infection typically have a fever, cough, wheezing, and runny nose. Infants and young children may be irritable, lethargic, feed poorly, and have no fever. Persons may have RSV if they have respiratory symptoms and test negative for COVID-19 or flu. Although no vaccines are available to prevent RSV infections, antiviral treatments can be offered, especially for those at high risk for severe disease such as infants and older adults. Connect with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms and may be at high risk.
“County Public Health is working closely with local healthcare providers to ensure prevention and treatment strategies are top of mind this fall and winter season,” shared Paige Batson, Deputy Director for Community Health. “Increases in RSV infections are being seen early this year which makes it especially critical for community members to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 as soon as possible.”
Flu and COVID-19 vaccination reduce the risk of disease, hospitalization and death. It is recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time if you are eligible and the timing coincides. Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine. It’s important to consider that it takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop antibodies that offer protection.
Vaccines are available from your usual healthcare provider as well as pharmacies. Many employers, schools, colleges, and universities also offer them. If you don’t have a doctor to go to regularly, you can locate flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine providers in Santa Barbara County at https://www.vaccines.gov/.
For more information about local COVID-19 impacts, flu season reports, and preventing respiratory illness, visit http://sbcphd.org/.