More flu cases are expected

Health official: Spread can occur in indoor settings

While the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues on the North Olympic Peninsula, health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated for influenza in order to avoid a combined flu and COVID-19 surge in late fall and winter.

The flu vaccine is already readily available at most pharmacies and health clinics that provide vaccinations.

“We’re strongly encouraging folks to get vaccinated against influenza, especially this year, because we are expecting a sixth wave of COVID in the fall and winter when people come indoors and gather, and we’ve seen how COVID alone can overwhelm the hospital system,” said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties. “In prior years also, influenza would also nearly overwhelm the hospital system on semi-regular basis.

“So, we really don’t need both of those at the same time.”

The flu season normally is considered to be during fall and winter, with case numbers peaking between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, but it decreases the possibility of being hospitalized and potentially dying from influenza, the CDC states.

“Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions,” the CDC states. “Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.”

Eligible residents can get a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine at the same appointment, Berry said. Currently, only residents 12 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Even with the vaccine, people should follow other disease-prevention protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing, which help with both the spread of COVID-19 and the flu, Berry said.

“Last year we were really successful at basically stopping transmission of the flu with our physical-distancing measures,” Berry said. “This year I don’t think we’ll be as successful as last year.”

Berry predicts this flu season will be worse than last year, due to people gathering more regularly and because schools are in person full-time this year — compared with last year, when school districts were using various online and hybrid models — and schools contribute heavily to influenza transmission, she said.

“Unlike COVID-19, a large proportion of flu transmission is largely driven by children,” Berry said. “The closing of schools was a key factor in stopping transmission last year; now that schools are open, we’re expecting that there will be more flu.”

There is a misconception that getting a flu vaccine can give you the flu, Berry said.

While the vaccine is made to activate an immune response that can cause a slight fever or other mild flu-like symptoms in the immediate days after receiving the vaccine, people can not contract the flu virus from the vaccine, both Berry and the CDC said.

Individual flu cases are expected through out the year, but no significant surge of cases was reported on the Peninsula in 2020, Berry said.

“I was not able to find any influenza cases in fall and winter of last year, above what we call ‘background levels,’ ” Berry said. “You’ll have sporadic cases of influenza all year round, but we did not have any above that level or near the levels that we’d normally see during a flu season.

“We really didn’t see any significant influenza activity.”

Another misconception regarding the flu vaccine is someone can’t get it if they are allergic to eggs, since many flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg proteins. However, the vaccine is safe for those residents to receive, although it’s recommended to receive it in a health care setting so officials can monitor the person in case of a possible reaction, Berry said.

More information on the flu vaccine can be found at the CDC’s website,


Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

More in News

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Pro-choice supporter Brian Hogan of Port Angeles, left, stands near pro-life supporter Jim Hanley oif 'Sequim across from Planned Parenthood in Port Angeles last week.
Signs outside Planned Parenthood display convictions

Protesters gather in Port Angeles as U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Mississippi abortion law

Cherish Cronmiller
Contributions aid change in the way things are

By Cherish Cronmiller OlyCAP executive director “The Way It Is” is a… Continue reading

More time given for vaccine mandate challenge

Injunction hearing now Dec. 13

Bentrinck range operations scheduled

The Royal Canadian Navy has announced that the land-based… Continue reading

For the 36th time the Port Angeles Firefighters and volunteers along with Santa will be having their Operation Candy Cane. They missed last year because of COVID restrictions so this year they are back with the same desire to help those less fortunate. And this year they have added two days to their campaign. The first six days they will follow their usual path throughout Port Angeles with their siren and music going handing out candy canes in exchange for cans of food or money for the local foot banks. The last two days they will be outside of PA for two nights sitting at Roosevelt school and Dry Creek school for two hours each. 
	ID: Mark Karjalainen checks out the controls of the freshly decorated 1956 Seagrave Fire Engine ready for the return of Operation Candy Cane in 2021.
Operation Candy Cane modified for Port Angeles

The Port Angeles Fire Department will conduct a modified… Continue reading

COVID-19 death reported in Jefferson County

Rise noted in cases from Thanksgiving gatherings

Allyson Brekke
Port Angeles’ community and economic director resigns

Allyson Brekke, community and economic development director for the… Continue reading

No weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be no field carrier landing practice operations for… Continue reading

teaser logo
Donations to Peninsula Home Fund fuel help for those in need

Campaign provides money that OlyCAP distributes

Most Read