Open Accessibility Menu

Urgent Care and WTMF Clinics Now Offering the 2015 - 2016 Flu Vaccine

The common expression “getting a shot in the arm” generally refers to something that boosts your mental or physical well-being. Modern flu vaccines are now available in other forms in addition to a “shot in the arm” – including a nasal spray and a “jet injector” that uses a high-pressure stream of fluid instead of a needle to penetrate the skin. Regardless of the method of delivery, the flu vaccine can be a boost for your good health.

“The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” says Dr. Dianne Martin, an infectious disease specialist with Washington Township Medical Foundation and co-chair of the Infection Prevention and Control Committee at Washington Hospital.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and serious outcomes of flu can result in hospitalization or death. While it is not possible to predict the severity of this year’s flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the 2014 – 2015 flu season was moderately severe, hitting people over age 65 particularly hard. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that last year there were 78 flu-associated deaths reported in persons under 65 years of age in California. The CDPH reports data only on Californians under age 65, so the total flu mortality numbers may be much greater, officials say.

In a notice issued November 4, the CDPH reported California’s first influenza-associated death in a person under age 65 for the 2015-2016 flu season. The CDPH report noted, “The death occurred in Santa Clara County and serves as a somber reminder that influenza can cause serious illness or death.”

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Because children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, the people who care for them should be vaccinated instead. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from flu. Vaccinations also are important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk people.

“Flu vaccines must be administered every year because your immunity to the flu declines over the course of a year,” Dr. Martin notes. “Also, because flu viruses often change from year to year, vaccines created for flu viruses circulating last year may not provide protection against this year’s viruses. Still, vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses, providing some protection against the flu. In addition, the more consistent people are about getting a flu vaccine every year, the better their overall immunity to the flu will be.”

The upcoming season’s flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season: an A (H1N1) virus, an A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus. Some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccines also protect against an additional influenza B virus. The most recent CDC report on what flu viruses are circulating and how similar they are to the flu vaccine viruses indicated that “all of the influenza viruses collected from U.S. states and other countries have been characterized as being similar to the influenza vaccine viruses recommended for inclusion in the 2015–16 vaccine.”

According to Dr. George Han with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the flu victim in Santa Clara County tested positive for influenza A. "Most of the influenza A viruses that are circulating so far this year seem to be subtype H3N2, and this subtype is actually included in this year's flu vaccine,” he notes.

“The ‘trivalent’ vaccine with a combination of three flu viruses is the one most commonly used,” Dr. Martin says. “We recommend the ‘quadrivalent’ vaccine with a combination of four viruses for people with immune system deficiencies. People who have a weakened immune system because of diseases such as diabetes, HIV and cancer are at high risk for complications. Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment should consult with their oncologist to find a window of time that is appropriate for receiving a flu vaccine. The flu can easily put these patients in a very dangerous situation.”

Some people who have had Guillain-Barré syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS) should not get the flu vaccine, but others who have had GBS might be able to get the vaccine. If you have ever had GBS, talk to your doctor about whether you should receive a flu vaccine.

“There are different flu vaccines available for people of different ages,” Dr. Martin says. “There is a nasal spray vaccine that is approved for people between the ages of 2 years and 49 years, although the nasal spray vaccine should not be given to women who are pregnant. There is a higher-dose flu shot for people over age 65 because their immune systems often aren’t as strong as younger people’s. There is also a vaccine that is made without using eggs for people who have egg allergies. The quadrivalent vaccine with four viruses and the vaccine without eggs may be more difficult to find, so people who need those vaccines might need to call various larger, nationwide chain pharmacies to find out where those vaccines are available.”

Vaccination of people who are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu is especially important. The CDC notes that some of the people considered to be at high risk include:

  • Children under age 5 – and especially those under 2 years old
  • People over age 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Native Americans
  • People who are morbidly obese (body mass index of 40 or greater)
  • People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, liver disorders and kidney disorders
  • People younger than age 19 who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy

It is possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated, although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary, based in part on health and age factors.

Symptoms of the flu may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

People infected with the flu may have respiratory symptoms and body aches or headaches without a fever. Some people, particularly children, also may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

“If you do get sick with the flu, stay home and seek medical treatment as soon as possible,” Dr. Martin says. “Don’t go shopping or to work and spread it to your colleagues or other people, and don’t send a sick child to school. You can treat flu symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Prescription antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of the illness and shorten the duration, but it’s important to use these drugs within the first 72 hours after the onset of symptoms.”

Although seasonal flu activity usually peaks in December and January or later, flu season can begin as early as October, so the CDC recommends getting vaccinated as early in the fall as possible.

“There also are other steps you can take to avoid catching the flu, including washing your hands often with soap and water and trying to avoid close contact with sick people,” Dr. Martin says. “Getting a flu vaccine, however, can really give your immune system that ‘shot in the arm’ that improves your protection against flu infection.”

The Washington Urgent Care Clinic is offering flu vaccines every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The fee is $20. Urgent Care is located in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue, suite 212, in Fremont. For information, call 510.791.2273.

Flu vaccines also are available at the Washington Township Medical Foundation Primary Care clinics listed below. Call for same day appointments. There is a $20 charge for private pay or they will bill patients’ insurances that we accept. For more information, go to or call (510) 248-1000.

Flu Shots are available at the following Washington Township Medical Foundation locations:

  • Family Medicine at Nakamura Clinic, 33077 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, 510.248.1500
  • Family Medicine at Newark Clinic, 6236 Thornton Avenue, Newark, 510.248.1860
  • Family Medicine at Warm Springs Clinic, 46690 Mohave Drive, Fremont, 510.248.1065
  • Family Practice and Internal Medicine at 39141 Civic Center Drive, #130, 510.248.1680
  • Internal Medicine at 2191 Mowry Avenue, #500-C, Fremont, 510.248.1585
  • Internal Medicine at 2557 Mowry Avenue, #12, Fremont, 510.248.1550
  • Pediatrics at 39500 Fremont Blvd., #100, 510.248.1800

*Appointment required at Civic Center location only

For more information about flu vaccinations and flu prevention, visit