Scripps Health Launches Flu Vaccination Clinics

Scripps physicians say early inoculation is best protection against seasonal influenza

A provider and patient after the patient received a flu shot.

Scripps physicians say early inoculation is best protection against seasonal influenza

A year after flu returned with a vengeance, reports of an early summer spike of the disease in the Southern Hemisphere are raising concerns in the United States that we might be in for another robust season.

Scripps Health physicians say the best way for everyone to protect themselves from the flu is to get vaccinated. Flu shots are now available at most Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal primary care sites across San Diego County, as well as at Scripps HealthExpress locations.

“While we can’t predict how bad the flu season will be, we know that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family against influenza,” said Siu Ming Geary, MD, an internal medicine physician and vice president of primary care at Scripps Clinic Medical Group. “And now is the time to get inoculated so that your body has a few weeks to build up immunity from the shot before the virus proliferates.”

In Australia, where influenza typically spreads during the summer, cases began spiking relatively early and the illness has been particularly prevalent among children, who have made up about 75% of those admitted to hospitals, according to health officials there.

American health experts use Australia as a barometer to predict what might be in store for the United States later in the year when flu season typically emerges here.

Beyond the physical discomfort and schedule disruptions that a routine flu infection can bring, the virus also can be deadly. During the 2022-23 flu season, the virus infected more than 21,000 people in San Diego County and killed 43 locally. Across the United States, as many as 54 million people were sickened by the infection and as many as 58,000 died.

And once again, there is a possibility of new surges of COVID and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) while influenza is spreading across the region and country this fall and winter, putting even more strain on health systems.

“Beyond getting vaccinated, it’s a good idea to wash hands often, avoid people who are sick, stay home and avoid others if you have symptoms, and make sure you are current on other recommended vaccinations for COVID and RSV,” said Anthony Chong, MD, a family medicine physician and chief medical officer at Scripps Coastal Medical Center.

Because there are many different flu viruses and they constantly evolve, this year’s vaccine is designed to cover the four strains expected to be the most common in circulation during the 2023-24 influenza season: Influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), influenza B (Victoria) and influenza B (Yamagata). In Australia, influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B (Victoria) have been the prevalent strains so far this year.

Vaccine manufacturers plan to supply between 156.2 million to 170 million doses of flu vaccine to the United States for the upcoming season.

Vaccination available by appointment at Scripps

Flu vaccine is now available widely across San Diego County, including at most Scripps Clinic and Scripps Coastal primary care sites, which are open by appointment to all Scripps patients, and on a walk-in basis at Scripps HealthExpress locations.

Scripps patients can use the MyScripps portal to schedule a visit with their primary care physician to receive vaccination for influenza, pneumonia and other illnesses, or they can call their primary care physician’s office directly. Others can dial 1-800-SCRIPPS for flu vaccination information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months or older, especially those who are at high risk for complications from the flu, including people 65 years and older; children under the age of 2; pregnant women; and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood disorders, weakened immune systems and morbid obesity.

Flu symptoms

Once the vaccine is administered, it takes about two weeks for the body to build up enough antibodies to develop immunity.

Common flu symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue, and some people, more commonly children, may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Other flu season tips

Scripps physicians also recommend these other practices during flu season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Watch out for flu symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
  • Stay away from sick people.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • If you become sick, stay home from work and school, and avoid contact with others. The CDC recommends staying home for a least 24 hours after a fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine.
  • Avoid the emergency room unless you are suffering from more serious flu symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; chest or abdomen pain or pressure; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; or flu symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and a worse cough.
  • For children, seek emergency medical help if they are breathing fast or are having trouble breathing; have bluish skin color; aren’t drinking enough fluids; aren’t waking up or interacting; are so irritable they don’t want to be held; have a fever with a rash; aren’t able to eat; don’t shed tears when crying; have significantly fewer wet diapers than normal; or have flu symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and a worse cough.
  • Check with your doctor to see if you should be treated with an antiviral drug.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, use home COVID tests to see if you might be positive for that virus.

Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.

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