With more people spending time indoors for school, work, recreation and worship after a summer of outdoor activities, the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast are experiencing an increase in respiratory viruses, consistent with the national trend.
Respiratory viruses including COVID-19 are of concern for people with higher risk such as older people, people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems. Fortunately, there are methods for people to protect themselves which include vaccines, testing and treatments to help people minimize risk and manage symptoms.
Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV, are two other seasonal viruses that cause respiratory infections and can result in severe illness or even death, particularly in older adults, pregnant women, young children and those with underlying medical issues.
Samaritan offers flu vaccination at most locations in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties including at Samaritan clinics, SamCare Express and Samaritan pharmacies. For information about COVID-19 and RSV vaccines, visit samhealth.org/flu.
Flu and RSV infections typically peak between December and February. Safe and effective vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19 and flu; and this year, for the first time, there is an RSV vaccine to help protect people 60 years and older. There is also a new vaccination available to prevent RSV infection in infants.
Samaritan Health Services encourages everyone to prepare for the fall respiratory virus season by taking the following steps:
- Get your seasonal flu vaccine at a flu clinic, your primary care provider’s office, a pharmacy or your local public health department.
- People 60 years and older should talk to their doctor about whether they should also get the RSV vaccine.
- Practice preventive measures like washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, cleaning surfaces often and staying home when sick.
- Consider masking in higher risk indoor settings and if an individual is high risk.
- Ensure you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines or boosters. Familiarize yourself with how to manage respiratory virus symptoms, including when and where to seek care if your symptoms are severe. Learn more at samhealth.org/WhereToGo.
Patients and visitors can check the status of masking requirements for each of Samaritan’s hospitals at samhealth.org/Visitors prior to visiting.