SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Even with flu cases off the radar last year, this year, a more apparent pattern is expected to exist according to health leaders.
Santa Barbara County Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday they have not seen any flu cases so far, but do expect them this year at a higher rate than 2020.
That is because during the flu season last year combined with the COVID-19 crisis, the public was largely protected by wearing face coverings and staying away from each other because of the social distancing guidelines. With that, the flu, did not get established or spread.
The advice is to get a shot now or soon, and not wait until you are exposed to the flu.
After you get a shot it takes about two weeks to protect your body.
The Centers for Disease Control says: September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. Adults, especially those older than 65, should not get vaccinated early (in July or August) because protection in this group may decrease over time. Children can get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available—even if this is in July or August. Some children need two doses. For those children it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second needs to be given at least 4 weeks after the first. Early vaccination can also be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy, because this can help protect their infants during the first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated).
Area pharmacies and drug stores are already posting notices on their doors and windows encouraging customers to come in for a flu shot.
If you are still considering a COVID shot and want a flu shot, it's recommended you get the COVID shot now. It is possible to have the flu and other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 at the same time. Diagnostic testing determines what kind of virus you have.
With more people out and in crowds, the chances of the flu spreading is higher than 2020. For now, medical officials say they expect at least a mild flu season.
While sitting with her coffee downtown, Sarah Lippert said, "I am all for the flu shot. I get them every year because I am very sensitive."
Health officials tell Santa Barbara County Supervisors last year was a quiet flu season because we were wearing masks and staying inside. It is going to be different this year.
Santa Barbara County Health Director Van Do-Reynoso told the Board of Supervisors, "flu vaccination will be very important especially because we are still in a pandemic to reduce flu the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on our community ."
Flu shot clinics and also COVID booster shot outreach efforts will likely be taking place at the same time.
Michelle Mitchell was visiting Santa Barbara from Paso Robles. She is a scientist and has no problem getting the shots she needs. "They are separate issues so we need to protect ourselves from all the issues. The flu vaccine has been around for a very long time. It is proven safe and effective especially when they can get the variants right."
Her daughter Ella said, "I am in school too so I am surrounded by people all day every day. I still wear my mask because I don't know who is vaccinated and who isn't, but I am as protected as I can be."
Getting vaccinations for a portion of the population as we have seen during Covid , does come with a certain degree of push back.
One person we found has his COVID shots, but doesn't plan on getting a flu shot this year.
Chris Austin said, "probably gonna pass this year. I have been pretty cautious with the mask. I am wearing gloves. I have been overly cautious probably so, the flu, I am not likely gonna catch it . "
Medical officials say if you still need to get your covid shots, not only get that but also your flu shot without delay, because you can have more than one respiratory illness at the same time.
Watch tonight on Newschannel 3-12, KKFX 11.
(More details, video and photos will be added here later today)