You’ve heard all year how important the COVID-19 vaccine is for your health, and your community’s health too. But there’s another inoculation to take care of as we head into winter: the flu vaccine.
Thanks to COVID-19 protective measures like universal masking, social distancing and limited travel, flu activity was low last year. But these measures are no longer practiced as widely as they were then. That means it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated for the flu, especially if you plan on visiting loved ones over the holidays.
Who should get vaccinated for the flu?
The short answer: everyone. The flu is highly contagious and can make you seriously ill, and can be deadly for certain populations. Groups at higher risk of severe illness from the flu include:
- Young children
- People 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer or stroke
This list is not exhaustive. The CDC has a complete list of all groups at greater risk of severe flu illness.
If the list above doesn’t describe you, you should still take care to protect yourself and others from the flu by getting vaccinated. The flu can lead to serious complications for people who belong to any of the groups mentioned above. It’s highly contagious, and you could spread it to someone else who’s at greater risk from the virus than you if you get infected.
Where can I get vaccinated for the flu?
You can get vaccinated for the flu at many of the same places you could get vaccinated for COVID-19, like pharmacies, grocery stores and medical clinics.
In fact, you can get vaccinated for the flu at the same time you get vaccinated for COVID-19, at the same appointment! It’s safe to get both shots at the same time. There’s no need to wait until you’ve had one before getting the other.
The flu vaccine is usually free for adults and always free for children. Most insurance providers - including Medicare and Apple Health - cover the cost of flu vaccination In Washington. Anyone younger than 19 can get the flu vaccine for free at a Vaccines for Children (VFC) provider. DOH maintains a VFC provider map, updated twice yearly.
To find a flu vaccine near you, go to VaccineFinder.org. If you are a parent or caregiver, call the Help Me Grow Washington hotline at 1-800-322-2588 (language assistance available) for help finding a flu vaccine provider for your child.