Last year the flu hit Santa Cruz County hard. In response, the Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance), which provides health care services for 350,000 California residents-including one in four residents here in Santa Cruz County, is launching a “Be a Flu Fighter” vaccine campaign this flu season.
Flu vaccines are free and can be accessed through local pharmacies and doctors’ offices for Alliance members. The Santa Cruz County Health Department and the Alliance recommend all community members get a vaccine as soon as possible to fight the flu in their communities. The more people vaccinated against the flu, the less the flu spreads.
Nationally, the 2017-2018 season was one of the worst and longest flu seasons on record. Even young and healthy adults died from severe flu symptoms. According to County Health Department Epidemiologist Will Forest, at least 12 flu-related fatalities occurred last year In Santa Cruz County.
Where to Get a Free Flu Vaccine
Alliance members can get a free flu vaccine at nearly all pharmacy locations in Santa Cruz County. Thanks to partnerships with participating local pharmacies and doctors’ offices, getting a flu vaccine this year for Alliance members is easy. Alliance members ages 19 and older can drop by their local pharmacy; children under the age of 18 can get a free vaccine at their doctor’s office. Members just need to bring their Alliance membership card to receive a free flu vaccine.
Said Dr. Dale Bishop, Chief Medical Officer at the Alliance. “Children, people over 65, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions are at most risk. The flu can cause serious complications even in healthy children. Getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid the flu and stay healthy.”
Even vaccines that may not exactly match the current flu strain help to prevent severe symptoms, hospitalization and possible death. The flu vaccine is generally safe and does not cause the flu in people. Don’t delay; get a flu shot today.
The Alliance was established in 1996 and serves approximately 350,000 members in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced counties. Using the state’s County Organized Health System model, the Alliance delivers innovative community-based health care services with the goal to improve medical outcomes and cost savings. It employs nearly 600 employees in the three counties and manages a budget of $1 billion.
The flu is spread mostly through coughing and sneezing. Touching infected surfaces can lead to the flu. Increasing spread of the flu are crowded environments like schools, airplanes, shopping malls and holiday gatherings.
Flu Fighter Tips
- Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible for yourself and everyone in your family over six months old
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Cover up coughs and sneezes
- Stay home when sick to avoid infecting others with the flu
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Keep surfaces cleaned and disinfected
- Those who have weak immune systems or a chronic medical condition don’t wait another day