State public health officials urged residents this week to get a flu vaccine, especially if they are part of a high-risk group such as those age 65 and older.
Flu season typically lasts from October to May and begins to accelerate in November and December, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Last year's flu season was likely blunted by public health measures enacted in response to the state's winter COVID-19 surge, but the potential for outbreaks of both viruses still looms this year, CDPH Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said.
"In the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic, a severe flu season could be devastating for California," Aragon said. "Getting a flu shot is a safe and simple thing we can all do to keep people out of the hospital and reduce the strain on our health care system."
Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months old or older, but are particularly important for high-risk groups, including people who smoke or have underlying health issues, pregnant women, children age 5 or younger, long-term care facility residents and employees and workers in industries that are deemed essential.
CDPH officials also noted that it is safe to receive a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day.
Flu vaccines are available and low or no cost at most retail pharmacies, health care providers, clinics and some local health departments. Retail pharmacies will also accept most insurance, including Medi-Cal, CDPH officials said.
Information about the annual flu can be found at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Influenza.aspx.