San Franciscans Urged To Get A Flu Shot

With the flu season approaching, San Francisco health care professionals today encouraged the public to get vaccinated, saying the shots are quick and safe.

At an event held at Kaiser Permanente’s San Francisco Medical Center on Geary Boulevard, doctors and other medical professionals got vaccinations themselves as encouragement for the general public to get immunized against influenza.

“We’re setting an example for the public and the people that we care for,” said Raymond Baxter, senior vice president of community benefit, research and health policy for Kaiser. “We know better than anyone how dangerous influenza is.”

Baxter said vaccines are “one of the easiest and most effective precautions people can take,” noting that more than 200,000 people nationally are hospitalized due to the flu virus each year and it leads to the deaths of up to 49,000 people annually.

Dr. Leah Klinger, assistant physician-in-chief of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, said medical professionals want to dispel some of the myths surrounding flu vaccinations.

“It does not contain the flu, and cannot get you sick,” Klinger said.

She said the vaccine helps the immune system develop antibodies that fight against the influenza virus and that it can sometimes take up to a couple of weeks to take effect, so getting vaccines early in the flu season is recommended.

Klinger said cases are usually initially reported in October and November with the peak of the flu season coming later in the winter.

Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk of serious complications from the flu, she said.

Kaiser Permanente employees and patients at their hospitals are able to get the vaccination done for free, while the vaccines are also given for free or at a low cost elsewhere.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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