State health experts: Flu vaccine should be considered 'essential' this year

OLYMPIA – While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, autumn brings with it another unwanted visitor – the flu. The presence of both viruses could put more people in the hospital and strain Washington’s health care system. While we don’t yet have a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, we do have one to prevent flu.

Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine. Young children, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions, and those aged 65 and older are at high risk of complications from flu illness. Flu is a highly contagious disease that can cause mild to severe illness, can lead to hospitalization, and can even be fatal – even in healthy young people. Getting a flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu, but does not prevent other respiratory infections.

Think of it as essential to get a flu vaccine this year,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington State Health Officer. “We should all get a flu vaccine now to help protect ourselves and our communities as we navigate this pandemic together.”

Washington provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for kids from birth through age 18, available across the state.

Flu vaccine is available everywhere, and many pharmacies now allow younger patients to get vaccinated with their families. Our health care workers need everyone’s support – the decision to get a flu vaccine is more important than ever,” Dr. Lofy added.

For help finding a health care provider or vaccine location, and to learn more about flu, visit


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