Believe it or not, it’s the beginning of flu season, and on Friday, local health officials kicked off the season with a free-immunization event.
Residents were encouraged to come to the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center to get their flu shot, which was free to 500 people, thanks to the San Diego Black Nurses Association in conjunction with San Diego County.
And many San Diegans took advantage of the event, such as Nathaniel Panes who showed up bright and early.
“It was really quick,” he said. “We came really early, assuming there would be a huge line.”
During the campaign, health officials pointed out the devastating effects of influenza and the importance that everyone be immunized.
Last season, 70 San Diegans died due to complications from influenza, five more than the previous year. Many of those deaths were among adults between the ages of 40 and 65, contrary to the belief that mostly the elderly are susceptible to the flu.
Health leaders also reiterated that the flu vaccine is safe and effective.
“One of the myths is that the flu vaccine doesn’t work,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer. “But people need to realize: the flu that those people get is much milder than it would have been had they not been immunized.”
About 151 to 159 million doses of flu vaccine are projected to be available this season.
The flu vaccine is already available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies as well as one of the county public health center (for those with no insurance).
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It is marked by fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headache, fatigue and, in some cases, vomiting, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.