It’s not too late to get your flu shot

It’s not too late to get your flu shot

Flu activity in Washington is elevated, according to the state Department of Health. It’s not too late to take precautions. But if you do end up with the flu, there are more options than ever for getting fast, affordable care.

“Some people seek care for the flu at hospital emergency rooms, which is generally not the most efficient or affordable,” said Dr. Mark Mariani, a physician executive with MultiCare Health System’s retail health division. “Most people can be treated quickly through their primary care doctors, urgent care clinics, online virtual visits, or our house call service.”

The best protections against flu are frequent handwashing and getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu by about 50 to 60 percent. There’s still time. The flu shot is effective as long as flu viruses are circulating.

Everyone older than 6 months should get the flu shot, according to the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), particularly those at higher risk: Adults 65 and older, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, children younger than 5 years old but especially younger than 2, pregnant women, Native Americans, and people with certain medical conditions (see for more information).

If you get a flu shot at a retail pharmacy, let your primary care doctor know so it can be added to your medical record.

Additional protections against flu include avoiding crowded places and close contact with people who are sick, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding touching your eyes and nose, as this is how flu viruses spread.

Flu symptoms develop quickly and can include high fever, headache, muscle aches, chills, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, and nausea or vomiting. If you get the flu, stay home and rest, drink plenty of fluids, treat fever and cough with over-the-counter medications, and avoid close contact with others so you don’t pass on the illness. If symptoms don’t improve, seek care—and do it promptly if you are over age 65 or otherwise at high risk of flu-related complications.

Source: MultiCare Health System, a not-for-profit healthcare organization that offers flu shots for adults and children at locations throughout the Puget Sound region, including MultiCare Immunization Clinic at South Hill Mall in Puyallup, Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinic (for children 18 and under), immediate clinics (vaccines for patients 9 years old and older), and MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care clinics (vaccines for patients 19 and older).