Santa Rosa, CA – October 3, 2021 – Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase today issued a health order requiring workers at certain health care and congregate facilities to get vaccinated against influenza. The flu vaccine requirement 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 offices and others. Workers must be in compliance by Nov. 15. Anyone granted an exemption must wear a surgical mask or respirator at all times while in indoor work settings.
Dr. Mase also issued a strong recommendation that the general public, including first responders, get an influenza vaccine this flu season. First responders who decline to get the influenza vaccine are strongly encouraged to wear a medical-grade mask when interacting with the public or while working indoors.
Flu season, which lasts from Nov. 1 to May 1, comes this year as Sonoma County continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Mase warned of the potential for both viruses circulating in the community at the same time this winter, which could put a great strain on hospital resources.
“As Sonoma County works to reduce transmission of COVID-19, influenza season is fast approaching,” Dr. Mase said. “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. 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 vaccines are widely available through primary health care providers, health clinics, pharmacies and some COVID vaccine clinics.
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