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Is it too early to get a flu shot? Short answer is no

Redding Record Searchlight logo Redding Record Searchlight 8/20/2020 Mike Chapman, Redding Record Searchlight
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While there's no vaccine yet for COVID-19, vaccines for the flu are widely available each year.

Already, signs are popping up at pharmacies encouraging customers to get their flu shot. But is it too soon?

The answer is no, according to health officials with the Shasta County Health and Humans Services Agency.

"It's advisable to get the (flu) vaccine as soon as you can," said Donnell Ewert, the agency's director.

More: Coronavirus in your community vs. the country

"Something everybody can do is get the flu shot," he said. "You can get it from your medical provider. You can get it from pharmacies. It's supposed to be made available for free for anyone with insurance."

a sign on the side of a building: Pharmacies are advertising the availablity of flu shots. This sign is outside Safeway on East Cypress Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. © Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight Pharmacies are advertising the availablity of flu shots. This sign is outside Safeway on East Cypress Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.

Ewert recommends everyone over 6 months old get the vaccination.

a sign sitting on the side of the road: Pharmacies are advertising the availablity of flu shots. This sign is at Rite Aid on East Cypress Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. © Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight Pharmacies are advertising the availablity of flu shots. This sign is at Rite Aid on East Cypress Avenue on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.

"It's not too early," the agency's health officer, Dr. Karen Ramstrom, also said during the weekly coronavirus media briefing Wednesday.

Ewert said the flu season varies year to year along with when it peaks. We could have an early flu season starting in late November or December or it could peak in February, he said.

Read More: Coronavirus live updates for the week of Aug. 17: Three more positive tests in Shasta County

"It does start circulating as soon as the weather turns cooler and people start congregating inside more," he said.

Although flu shots are available now, the big push of getting doses out to the states usually occurs in September. Ramstrom said her agency has a team working in partnership with clinics preparing for community availability and any drive-up vaccinations.

"There's a lot going on in that area right now," she said.

Ramstrom said the hope is this year's flu season might be milder because as people take precautions against COVID-19, the spread of the flu should lessen.

"That's what we're hoping, these prevention measures that are in place for COVID-19 — hand washing, stay home when you're sick, keeping your distance, wearing the masks, all of that — we're hoping will influence all kinds of respiratory types of infections whether it's a cold virus or influenza," Ramstrom said. 

Related: Indoor or outdoor museum? Lake Shasta Caverns suspends cave tours to comply with rules

Taking the virus precautions, however, isn't a substitute for a flu shot, she said.

"It's really important that people get the updated influenza vaccine on an annual basis," Ramstrom said.

The more people who get an influenza vaccination, the less transmission of the flu there is in the community, she said.

Mike Chapman is a reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Follow him on Twitter @mikechapman_RS. Subscribe today!

This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: Is it too early to get a flu shot? Short answer is no

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