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Free flu shots available at drive-thru clinics in Seattle

A flu vaccine is administered in Seattle in 2018.
Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press (file)
A flu vaccine is administered in Seattle in 2018.

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? It’s something you hear every year, but this flu season public health officials are going the extra mile to convince you. They say a bad influenza outbreak could overwhelm the health care system, which is already stretched by COVID-19. This year, there are more flu shots available for free. 

Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle have drive-thru clinics where, even if you aren’t insured, it won’t cost you anything. And you don't have to have school-age children to sign up. The clinics are run by the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association. That's where you go to make an appointment and see site locations.

As part of the all-out effort to get people vaccinated for the flu, Public Health-Seattle & King County is spending $900,000 to provide 100,000 free doses for people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Public Health Director Patty Hayes said they’ll be doing a lot of outreach to people who don't have a permanent home.

“We’ll be reaching people experiencing homelessness with clinics at shelters, at encampments and at permanent supportive housing sites,” Hayes said.  

John Lynch, head of Harborview Medical Center Infection Prevention and Control, says having a wide swath of the community vaccinated for influenza to prevent an outbreak is similar to having people wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's the main tool we have, he said.

"The thing about influenza is you never know how bad a flu season will be until you’re deep into it," Lynch said. And, he said, this year we can't afford to take any chances.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.