Flu Season 2020-21
(Updated September 2020)
What is the Flu?
Influenza (the Flu) is a serious disease spread by coughs and sneezes and caused by influenza A or B viruses, mainly during the winter season. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Signs and symptoms include fever, cough, headache, muscle aches, and weakness. A sore throat, and runny nose can also be present. The best way to prevent influenza is by getting a flu vaccination each year.
How is the Flu Spread?
The flu virus spreads through the tiny wet droplets inadvertently produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. A person can get the flu by breathing in these wet drops, or by touching items and surfaces covered with these drops and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
People who have the flu may spread it to others about 1 day before getting sick to 5-7 days after, and are most contagious during the first three days of feeling sick. Children and people with weak immune systems can spread the flu virus for a longer period of time.
This means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Almost half of the people with the flu virus do not know that they have the flu and continue with their daily activities.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family?
Get a vaccine:
The Alameda County Public Health Department, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Influenza immunization is critical this season! Getting flu vaccine:
- reduces illness and transmission in our community
- reduces clinic visits and hospitalization
- prevents illnesses that mimic COVID-19
The extent to which SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, will circulate during the 2020–21 influenza season is unknown. However, it is anticipated that SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses will indeed both be active in the United States during the 2020–21 influenza season. We, therefore, want to avoid the possibility of a “twindemic” -- a severe flu season coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases. A huge concern is the risk that our medical system may be overloaded trying to care for both COVID-19 and flu patients at once. We are stressing the importance of getting a flu shot this year since it is the virus we have a vaccine for now. Flu vaccine is recommended for all people age 6 months and older.
All formulations are available this year: nasal sprayers, prefilled syringes, multi dose vials (across the different brands). The nasal spray vaccine is available during the 2020-21 influenza season but may be harder to find because of a limited supply. The best place to receive a flu vaccine is at your doctor’s office, but there are also other options, like pharmacies, clinics or sites on this flu locator website.
Here is a summary of the 2020-21 influenza recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Shoo the Flu
Shoo the Flu is a community-based initiative to prevent seasonal influenza in Oakland and Castro Valley. We hope that school communities are safe and well during these unprecedented times. Regretfully, we are unable to hold traditional Shoo the Flu clinics at schools this fall. Containing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Oakland and surrounding cities, however, remains a high priority for the duration of the pandemic. In place of holding Shoo the Flu clinics at schools, the Alameda County Public Health Department and the Shoo the Flu team will be working on conducting community-located mass flu vaccination clinics. Large flu vaccination clinics in communities will help protect families as well as our health care system from the ill effects of flu disease. All clinics will be socially distanced and paperless. Conducting mass, socially distanced clinics this fall also sets up our cities for success when COVID vaccine becomes available. Conducting flu clinics will protect our residents from this dangerous disease and teach us best practices to use once the COVID-19 vaccine arrives. We hope to see you at one of our clinics, please keep checking our clinics page for information about locations and times.