Flu season doesn't usually hit its peak for a few months, but local health officials say now is the time to take action to avoid becoming infected.
The Benton-Franklin Health District is offering flu shots in Kennewick and Pasco by appointment. Getting the vaccine, "is the best way to protect yourself and everyone around you," said Dr. Amy Person, the district's health officer.
Flu shots also are available in many doctor's offices and pharmacies, and flu shot clinics for veterans are planned locally.
Flu shots are recommended each year for everyone 6 months and older. Babies younger than 6 months can't receive the vaccine, so "it is important that family and caregivers be vaccinated to help protect them from exposure," according to information from the health district.
This year, the health district has a vaccine that protects against four strains of Influenza A and B, and also one that protects against three strains. "The message is, if you want the extra protection, come in sooner rather than later" before those doses run out, Person told the Herald.
The flu can be serious, with young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions especially at risk. As many as 36,000 people die each year from influenza, the Benton-Franklin Health District information said.
To make an appointment for a flu shot through the health district, call 460-4232 for the Kennewick location and 547-9737 for the Pasco site. The health district is offering injections or, for some ages, a mist introduced through the nose.
The Veterans Affairs medical center in Walla Walla also is offering several free flu and pneumonia immunization clinics for veterans this month, including one from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Pasco American Legion and another in the parking lot of the federal building in Richland from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25. Veterans also can stop by the Richland veterans clinic at the federal building from 3 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday this month.
The Grant County Health District also announced that it's holding a flu shot clinic from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in the cafeteria of Royal City High School.