PENDLETON — Flu shots offer residents a way to protect themselves during the fast approaching flu season, according to local health organizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that individuals should aim to get the vaccination before the end of October in an effort to build up an immunity before the start of flu season.
Tracy Wart, an infection prevention nurse at Saint Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, advises that those who are able to get a flu shot should try to get one sooner rather than later because it typically takes at least two or three weeks after the vaccination for the body to build up an immunity.
“We didn’t start to see the flu pop up until mid-December last year, but Washington is starting to see a few cases already,” said Wart. “There are some predictions that we’ll have a really bad year this year.”
Wart says that predictions for the flu season are generally developed by monitoring cases in Australia where the flu season is typically July through September.
Umatilla County Public Health Director Joe Fiumara said while the Umatilla County flu season typically peaks around January or February, it is still a great time to get the vaccine.
“It helps you and it helps your community,” said Fiumara of the vaccine. “We’re putting these out there because we believe in them and the good they can do.”
While some people fear the vaccine will make them sick with the flu, Wart said the influenza vaccine no longer carries the live virus and one cannot get the flu from the vaccine. Despite this, Wart said that people may experience some soreness or feel feverish as a result of the vaccine building immunity in the body.
According to the CDC, the flu vaccine significantly reduces a child’s possibility of dying from influenza. In addition to vaccinations, the CDC recommends taking additional steps to combat influenza through frequent hand washing and properly covering one’s mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough.
In an effort to get the vaccine to more people, Saint Anthony Hospital will be hosting a free drive-thru immunization clinic for those 18 and older on Monday, Oct. 14 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pendleton Convention Center. The drive-thru clinic allows visitors to stay in the comfort of their car and receive a vaccination quickly and easily. Wart says that there are roughly 750 doses available and advises that people not wait for the last minute if possible.
“Last year, we ran out about 45 minutes before the end of the day,” Wart said. “I really want to make sure that people get there if they can.”
In addition to Monday’s clinic in Pendleton, the Walla Walla VA Clinic, Good Shepherd Health Care System and Umatilla County Public Health will be hosting similar events in the coming days.
The Walla Walla VA Clinic will host a drive-thru flu shot clinic for area veterans on Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington.
Good Shepherd Health Care System will host two clinics, the first as a part of its annual Community Meeting and Health Fair on Oct. 30 from 5-6 p.m. at Hermiston High School. The second clinic, which will have a higher number of vaccines available, will take place at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston on Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the conference rooms No. 1 and No. 2.
Umatilla County Public Health will host a drive-thru clinic open to all ages at Gib Olinger Elementary School in Milton-Freewater on Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.