Health experts push flu vaccine as mask mandates disappear

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon public health officials are reminding people about the importance of getting a flu vaccine as people across the country start to remove masks.

The Oregon Health Authority said the state is seeing a rise in late-season flu cases as indoor mask requirements fall away, making it easier for the flu to spread.

“The 2020-2021 flu season was virtually non-existent as public health restrictions, such as stay-home orders, mask requirements, and limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, kept flu cases down at record-low levels,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at the OHA’s Public Health Division. “Now we’re seeing more cases at a time when the season is usually coming to a close.”

Anyone over the age of 6 months is eligible to get a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is free or low-cost with most health insurance plans. To find a flu vaccine clinic, visit www.flu.oregon.gov and use OHA’s flu vaccine locator tool.

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