County of Marin - News Releases - Flu Shot Week

For Immediate Release
December 03, 2021

Seasonal Flu Prepares to Mingle with COVID-19

Marin doctors strongly recommend influenza vaccination

The following is a joint release from Marin County Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, MarinHealth Medical Network, Marin Community Clinics, and Sutter Health.

San Rafael, CA – The first cases of influenza have been detected in Marin County, signaling the start of flu season. Marin County Public Health and health care providers are urging everyone to obtain the protection of the flu vaccine. The message is especially important this year, as the community faces the threat of potential surges in COVID-19 with the delta and omicron variants.

The week of December 5 is National Influenza Vaccination week, and the timing is right for Marin residents who haven’t gotten their flu shot yet. Flu is highly seasonal, and cases typically rise in December and peak in January or February in Marin County. Health care providers are concerned about managing the twin impacts of potential flu and COVID-19 cases requiring critical care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how effective vaccines are in protecting us as individuals and as a community,” said Dr. Karin Shavelson, Chief Medical Officer at MarinHealth Medical Center. “By protecting yourself against both COVID-19 and Influenza, you’re also protecting our community and our hospitals and health care workers.”

The seasonal flu and COVID-19 can exhibit some of the same symptoms, including fever, cough, body aches, chills. Besides getting immunized, residents should take the following preventive actions to stop the spread of germs:

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you or your child are sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms go away.
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • When washing hands isn’t an option, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or, if one isn’t available, into your elbow.
  • Use hand sanitizer or wash hands after coughing or sneezing.

Every flu season, hospital intensive care units are substantially impacted by people seriously ill with the flu, and Public Health is working with its medical partners to prepare for surges in both illnesses so taxed staffs are not overburdened this fall and winter.

“With uncertainties of the Omicron variant, let’s take control of what we can,” said Dr. Laura Eberhard, Chief of Critical Care for Kaiser Permanente San Rafael. “A flu vaccination remains the best way for people to protect themselves from coming down with a severe case of influenza.”

The typical flu season nationwide is between October and May. In Marin, flu cases typically rise dramatically through December. It takes around two weeks after a flu shot for the body to build an immunity to influenza infection.

Locally, Marin County Public Health tracks flu activity by analyzing laboratory testing data and visits to local emergency departments for flu-like illness. The team produces an influenza surveillance report that summarizes local activity and has links to statewide and national flu activity.

For those with medical insurance, flu shots are free as a preventive service at doctor’s offices and most retail pharmacies (e.g., Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Safeway, Walgreens). Those without health insurance can obtain free or low-cost flu shots through local community clinics. Use the CDC’s Vaccine Finder to find a nearby flu vaccine provider.


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website