Scotts Valley, CA, November 26, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- Last year the flu hit California hard. In response, the Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance), a local Medi-Cal managed care plan that provides health care services for 350,000 adults and children in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced counties, is launching a “Be a Flu Fighter” no-cost vaccine campaign this flu season.
Flu vaccines are free and can be accessed through local pharmacies and doctors’ offices for Alliance members. Local County Health Departments and the Alliance recommend that everyone 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. It’s not too late to be a flu fighter.
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. In Santa Cruz, Monterey and Merced counties, more than 20 flu-related fatalities occurred last year. Even young and healthy adults died from severe flu symptoms.
Where to Get a Free Flu Vaccine
Alliance members can get a free flu vaccine at nearly all pharmacy locations in the Alliance service area. 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.
The ideal time for flu vaccine is now, but any time this fall and winter can help prevent flu spread, as the flu season runs through March. Members just need to bring their Alliance membership card to receive a free flu vaccine.
“Unlike the common cold, seasonal influenza can be a serious illness. The CDC recently estimated that more than 80,000 people died due to flu last year and some of those deaths included otherwise healthy people,” 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.”
Contrary to popular belief, 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. Only a very small minority of people complain of flu-like symptoms after receiving the shot and these are usually quite mild.
For the Record Book
The 2017-2018 flu season was the first to be classified as “high severity” across all age groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Santa Cruz: “Last flu season, for 23 consecutive weeks in Santa Cruz County, the percentage of ‘influenza-like illness’ visits to doctors and emergency rooms were higher than any corresponding week in any recent year,” said County Health Department Epidemiologist Will Forest. “By any standard, it was the worst flu season, both locally and nationally...in many decades. In most years, we see only about two to three deaths.”
Merced: According to Merced County Public Health Officer Dr. David Canton, 14 severe influenza cases resulted in visits to Intensive Care Units. The youngest case last flu season was an infant.
Monterey: Last year six people were hospitalized due to flu symptoms, and there were seven flu-related fatalities in the County, according to Monterey County public records.
About the Alliance
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 (COHS) model, the Alliance delivers innovative community-based health care services with the goal to improve medical outcomes and cost savings. The Alliance prides itself on its close partnership with contracted providers to promote prevention, early detection and effective treatment, and overall to improve access to quality health care for its members. Since its inception, the Alliance’s preventative health care programs and cost-effective care have saved taxpayers more than $440 million as compared to the state’s Medi-Cal program. Alliance Fact Sheet can be accessed at www.ccah-alliance.org/pressroom.html.