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County health officials: Get flu shots early

Vaccinations are not fully effective for two weeks, health officials say

With flu season beginning, San Mateo County health officials urge everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated soon.

Because the flu is unpredictable, and the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective, early vaccination is important to help prevent a disease that hospitalizes 200,000 Americans every year, according to the San Mateo County Health System.

"The flu vaccine is safe and effective and is the most important tool against the spread of influenza in San Mateo County," said county health officer Dr. Scott Morrow.

Vaccinations must be renewed every year because strains of influenza change over time. Flu shots are especially important for pregnant women, children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, Dr. Morrow said.

In addition to getting the vaccine, health officials advise:

● Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.

● Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

● Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

● When sick, stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Flu shots are available from medical providers, pharmacies, retail stores, and some employers. The San Mateo County Health System hosts free walk-in clinics, with no appointment necessary.

Smchealth.org/flu has clinic locations and dates.

Vaccinefinder.org lists vaccination locations.

CDPH.ca.gov has more information.

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