Sonoma County requiring health care workers to get flu shot

Bay Area

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, file photo, a patient receives an influenza vaccine in Mesquite, Texas. Amid all the focus on COVID-19 vaccinations, U.S. health experts have another plea: Don’t skip your flu shot. With U.S. schools and businesses reopened, international travel resuming and far less masking this fall, flu is likely to make a comeback. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) — Sonoma County is requiring health care workers to get the flu shot, according to a health order issued Friday.

The health order requires workers at certain health care and congregate facilities to get vaccinated against the flu.

This applies to all workers who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or residents. Workers include nurses, physicians, technicians, therapists and pharmacists at such facilities as acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, psychiatric hospitals, dialysis centers, dental officers and others.

Workers have until Nov. 15 to get the shot.

Anyone granted an exemption must wear a surgical mask or respirator at all times while in indoor work settings.

The county is also recommending the general public, including first responders, to get the flu shot this flu season, which begins Nov. 1 and ends May 1.

First responders who decline to get the flu vaccine are strongly encouraged to wear a medical-grade mask when interacting with the public or while working indoors.

“As Sonoma County works to reduce transmission of COVID-19, influenza season is fast approaching. The flu and COVID-19 will likely be spreading at the same time, and relaxed COVID-19 mitigation measures may result in an increase in flu activity during the upcoming season,” Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said. “The co-occurrence of influenza season with a possibility of another late fall/winter surge of COVID-19 may increase the risk of our health systems being overwhelmed with patients with critical respiratory illness. Influenza is preventable with a vaccine that is currently available.”

Flu shots are available through primary health care providers, health clinics, pharmacies and some COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

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