Free Flu Shot Clinic Offered In San Diego Ahead Of ‘Tripledemic’

SAN DIEGO, CA — It’s that time of year again. The dreaded flu season has arrived and San Diego County officials are urging community members to update their vaccinations.

While Californians have spent nearly three years enduring surges of COVID-19 during the winter, state residents could be faced with a stronger version of a familiar foe, the influenza virus.

Flu activity is more than 10 times higher nationwide when compared to last year’s flu season and cases have more than doubled over the past week, according to an Oct. 24 report from Walgreens Flu Index.

What’s more, officials are warning of a potential “tripledemic” if a rise in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases coincide with the seasonal peaks in influenza and COVID-19.

In San Diego County, Walgreens locations are offering free flu shots as well as vaccines for COVID-19, shingles, whooping cough and pneumonia. Walgreens pharmacies allow patients to sign up for up to four vaccines at once. Find a location near you using this search.

Walgreens has more than 500 pharmacy locations across California, including these locations in San Diego County:

  • Chula Vista: 621 I St.
  • Chula Vista: 1111 3rd Ave.
  • Chula Vista: 1430 Eastlake Parkway
  • Coronado: 925 Orange Ave.
  • El Cajon: 215 N. 2nd St., El Cajon
  • Encinitas: 1320 Encinitas Blvd.
  • Escondido: 111 W. Washington Ave.
  • Escondido: 460 W. Felicita Ave.
  • Escondido: 1574 E. Valley Parkway
  • Fallbrook: 1285 S. Mission Road
  • La Jolla: 4130 La Jolla Village Drive
  • Lakeside: 9728 Winter Gardens Blvd.
  • Lemon Grove: 7195 Broadway
  • National City: 885 Euclid Ave.
  • Oceanside: 3507 Cannon Road
  • Oceanside: 3752 Mission Ave.
  • Poway: 13390 Poway Road
  • San Diego: 301 University Ave.
  • San Diego: 602 Euclid Ave.
  • San Diego: 3005 Midway Drive
  • San Diego: 3222 University Ave.
  • San Diego: 4029 43rd St.
  • San Diego: 5504 Balboa Ave.
  • San Diego: 8766 Navajo Road
  • San Diego: 10787 Camino Ruiz
  • Santee: 9305 Mission Gorge Road
  • Vista: 310 Sycamore Ave.
  • Vista: 1510 N. Santa Fe Ave.

“As we return to pre-pandemic activities and spend more time indoors without a mask or social distancing, we are more vulnerable to respiratory infections,” Anita Patel, vice president of pharmacy services development at Walgreens, said in a statement.

What’s more, cases of RSV, a fairly common illness that can cause breathing difficulties in young children, are uncharacteristically high in California for this time of year, straining capacity in local hospitals.

Prevention methods used to ward off COVID-19 had kept influenza and RSV cases relatively low for the last two and a half years, experts have said. With masking mandates and other restrictions disappearing, this winter season could bring the flu and other respiratory viruses back with a vengeance, according to multiple reports.

“It’s like RSV took a two year sabbatical, was working out twice a day, meditating, eating well, and is now back and showing off,” tweeted Jessica Myers, a pediatric hospitalist in Palo Alto.

Another warning has come from Australia, which saw an astonishing winter peak of flu cases. Cases reached a height not seen since at least 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Nationally, some 7,334 RSV tests came back positive for the week ending Oct. 15, up from 6,518 the prior week and 5,210 the week before that, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

READ MORE: RSV Cases Rise In CA: 5 Things To Know About ‘Tripledemic’ Threat

Currently there are no vaccinations that work to prevent RSV but a couple of pharmaceutical companies are working to develop vaccines.

Health officials have said the rise in RSV cases makes it more important than ever to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza to free up hospital space.

“Mostly the issue is there’s low population immunity and kids are, once again, gathered again, and this is facilitating rapid spread of viruses like RSV,” Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News. “And because of the sheer volume of infection, when you have that larger denominator, you have a situation where a portion of those kids are going to require hospital treatment. And because of that, our hospitals are spread thin, not only for bed capacity, but also for critical staffing of those beds.”

To prevent the spread of RSV, healthcare providers recommend the same precautions they do with influenza and other contagious illnesses: Wash your hands thoroughly and stay home if you’re sick.

Patch editor Rachel Barnes contributed to this report.