Vaccination photo by Breanna Hardy.
Written by Breanna Hardy
Last year, the Central Valley avoided outbreaks of the flu, but this year, health officials are hosting a mass flu vaccine site to keep the momentum going.
This Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. the Fresno County Department of Public Health is hosting a drive thru flu vaccination site at 445 S. Cedar Ave. The public can bring their household members and everyone who receives a vaccine will be entered into a raffle for prizes.
“Remember that flu season is upon us; it is time to get your flu vaccine,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for Fresno County.
Vohra is urging the public to protect themselves after the first flu hospitalization case was identified in the country.
“We had a really great victory from a public health standpoint in our ability to protect people from influenza,” he said. “I’d really like to repeat that as much as we can.”
He attributes the protection to vaccinations and vigorous masking protocols, and many last year noted that school shutdowns played a big role in reducing the spread of the flu.
In addition to the mass flu vaccination site hosted by the county, there is a tentative plan to host a Covid-19 vaccination site at Sierra Pacific Orthopedic Center when booster shots are approved.
An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration rejected the Pfizer booster shots 17-1. The panel rejected the booster shot for the general public, but recommended it for people 65 and older, or those who are at high risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19.
Vohra admitted to confusion surrounding the booster shots, and whether Johnson and Johnson vaccine recipients will need to switch to either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine when a booster is recommended.
“Lots of science evolving in real time,” he said.
“Part of us just wants to say, ‘Give me the answer,’ but that’s really not how science works — especially when it’s this complicated. You have to have a lot of people in the room, friendly disagreements do occur, and then hopefully the best practices emerge as people deliberate and share their perspectives,” he added.
Sierra Pacific didn’t order the flu vaccine early enough to incorporate the flu vaccine into the booster vaccination program since the conversation surrounding booster shots entered the picture just recently.
“If there’s an opportunity that comes up as far as quantity and availability then we’ll add it to our drive, through,” said Rick Lembo, director of sports medicine chief patient care officer at Sierra Pacific.
Vohra added that it is safe to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine on the same day.