SUNNYSIDE — With the advent of fall comes preparations for the colder weather season. Included in those preparations should be an appointment for a flu vaccination.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, the season is already well underway in the state, so getting that flu shot soon as is possible, is a key part to avoiding or preventing the illness.

“It’s essential to take the flu seriously and just as essential to get a flu vaccine every year,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “Flu vaccine is now available statewide at most pharmacies and health care provider offices. Everyone, six months old and older, including kids, teens, pregnant women and healthy young adults, should get vaccinated.”

The flu is highly contagious and is not only unwanted and uncomfortable but can be deadly. According to Washington State Health Department records, 241 Washingtonians died from the highly contagious disease in 2018.

The health department stresses “the need for all people to get vaccinated, which forms a ‘cocoon’ around those who are too young to receive a vaccine, and those who can’t be vaccinated because of certain medical conditions.”

Washington State provides all recommended vaccines, including flu vaccine, at no cost for kids through age 18. These vaccinations are available at health care providers across the state and at county health departments. Medical offices, however, may charge a fee for the appointment and for giving the shot, though a family who can’t afford the fee can request the fee be waived.

Sunnyside Pharmacist Bylan Gardener says the multiple types of flu vaccine are available at the local pharmacy now. Gardener also noted individuals age 65 and over need, and should ask for, the higher shot dose.

Pneumonia shots are also good prevention for the 65 plus age group. Gardener stated, “Pneumonia shots are recommended for 65 and older. They are a two-part shot, one given at age 65 and one a year later.

Locally, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers’ Clinic has a series of free flu shot clinics scheduled. Call YVFW for dates and times at 509-225-3384. For help finding a Washington State flu or pneumonia shot location, visit KnockOutFlu.org.

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