Sitting in her office Monday, Susan Klein-Rothschild got the vaccine she and so many others she works with at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department are urging people to get this time of year.
Vaccinating against influenza is key to preventing spread of the illness, said Klein-Rothschild, who is the department's deputy director of community health.
Administering the vaccine was Ed Tran, supervisor of public health for disease control in the department, who gave her a quick shot.
The department is aiming for 90 percent of its employees to be vaccinated against influenza, and "we see so many patients come through our doors that we really want to model good behavior," Klein-Rothschild said.
The county is focusing on immunizing as many of the 30,000 patients it sees annually against the virus.
The Public Health Department also has six health-care providers who report instances of influenza-like illnesses, and one patient has been seen with the symptoms since the flu season began Sept. 29. That person has not tested positive for influenza A or B at this point, however.
Klein-Rothschild said it's important for people to be vaccinated now as the flu season is just beginning and that patients should ask their health-care providers about the shot.
The vaccine takes about two weeks to become fully effective, Tran said.
The county's Public Health Department is giving out a vaccine that protects against three different strains of influenza.
There are other types of flu vaccinations out there, Klein-Rothschild said, with a more potent version for people older than age 65 and even a nasal mist people can take.
"The important thing is just to get something," she said.
The department has pushed hard to make the effort a preventive one.
The number of flu cases varies by year, but the county is always tracking the cases. The department saw a large spike in 2007-08, and Klein-Rothschild said the department has been working to make sure people know about the immunizations to prevent more illness in the county.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its recommendations, and everyone above the age of 6 months is advised to get a flu vaccination.
The county has a flu vaccine finder on its website that allows people to type in their ZIP code to find the nearest vaccine provider, which often includes hospitals, local clinics and neighborhood drugstores.