The flu season typically begins in October and ends in May each year but the Tooele County Health Department warns individuals to prepare early.
“Influenza vaccines, also known as flu shots, protect against the four most common influenza strains that have been highlighted by research,” Emma Hoyt, epidemiologist at TCHD said.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older in the United States should get their flu vaccine each year with the exception of those who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine prior, individuals with Guillain-Barre syndrome, and those who are extremely ill.
The nasal spray-mist is also an option for some individuals.
Flu vaccination may prevent you from getting sick with the flu and for those who do get sick, vaccination has shown to reduce the severity of illness hospitalizations, according to Hoyt.
Other ways to prevent getting sick include: handwashing, avoiding close contact with sick people, staying home when sick, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching eyes, nose, and face, disinfecting regularly touched surfaces, and practicing good health habits, like getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy, managing stress, and exercise.
Those with questions or concerns about the flu vaccine or the virus should talk to their healthcare provider.
Hoyt also offered a short update on COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases are decreasing and the Omicron subvariant, BA.5, is making up most new cases, according to Hoyt.
“This variant is more contagious and more resistant than earlier strains of Omicron,” Hoyt said.
With the new variant, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 23,794 positive cases of COVID-19 in Tooele County, according to the Utah Department of Health.
There have also been 789 hospitalizations and 108 deaths.
In the State of Utah, there have been 1,034,616 positive cases of the virus, 38,313 hospitalizations, and 5,001 deaths.
There is a new COVID-19 booster.
“The first Bivalent Booster was recommended by the CDC earlier this month,” Hoyt said. “This unique booster targets two Omicron subvariants that are more transmissible and immune-evading. The CDC is now recommending people ages 12 and older to receive one updated Pfizer or Moderna bivalent vaccine.”
Those with questions related to the vaccine should talk to their healthcare provider, Hoyt said.
COVID and flu vaccines, including the new booster, are available at the Tooele County Health Department. No appointment is required and they are open between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.
The Tooele County Health Department is also hosting a drive-thru flu clinic on Sat. Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon. Those 18 and older may participate.