Information provided by County of San Benito.
In an Aug. 20 press release, the San Benito County Health Department recommended that people get a flu vaccine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Getting a flu vaccine this year is even more important than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Interim Public Health Officer David Ghilarducci.
Public health experts say that it’s difficult to know how the flu will interact with COVID-19. The flu season has been mild in the Southern Hemisphere, which is usually six months ahead of the United States. The release said it isn’t clear whether that’s because of the flu strains circulating this year or because the same public health measures that prevent COVID-19—masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing—also stop flu outbreaks.
In 2018-19, there were about 490,000 people hospitalized because of the flu, and more than 35,000 died, in what was considered a “moderate” year for the flu. Since March, more than 345,000 Americans have been hospitalized and 170,000 have died from COVID-19.
“Our first and foremost concern is the health and well-being of our community. Since we are not able to conduct a mass flu vaccination clinic as in years’ past due to the pandemic, the San Benito County Public Health Services (PHS) will be conducting several free ‘drive-thru’ flu vaccination clinics by appointment only,” said Ghilarducci.
The clinics will be conducted at PHS, located at 351 Tres Pinos Road in Hollister on Thursdays Sept. 17 and 24, and Oct. 1 and 8, from 3-7 p.m. A Saturday clinic will also be conducted on Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, call Public Health Services at (831) 637-5367.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine.
“Flu vaccines work, and they can take a big burden off our medical infrastructure,” said Michael Bogey, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital chief of emergency medicine. “Let’s keep people out of the hospital with flu while we deal with a likely upswing in COVID-19 infections.”