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OHA director inoculated against the flu

Oregon Health Authority is trying to prepare Oregonians for this year's flu season.

COURTESY OHA - OHA Director Pat Allen gets his flu shot.Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen is prepared for flu season — are you?

Allen, who took the helm of the agency in 2017, was photographed getting his flu shot Wednesday at the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City. It was his idea, a spokeswoman says.

The agency then pushed the photo out on social media as part of an ongoing effort to encourage Oregonians to get their flu shots.

"Pat believes in the preventive benefits of a flu shot and would like to do his part to encourage more Oregonians to protect themselves from the flu," said OHA Spokeswoman Delia Hernandez. "The picture was taken (Wednesday) at the Oregon State Hospital in Junction City, bringing attention, in particular, to the importance of health care workers getting their flu shots."

This winter, about 80,000 people perished from the flu, according to NPR. (Two Oregon children died from flu last flu season, according to OHA). Typically only about 47 percent of Americans get vaccinated against the flu, a virus that causes respiratory illness.

The vaccine is still the most effective way to avoid getting the virus, according to Dr. Ann Thomas, a physician in the agency's public health division.

"We can all do our part in keeping flu numbers down by getting a flu shot before the season really hits hard," Thomas said in an agency press release last week.

The agency is also trying to call more attention to disparities in vaccination rates between different groups.

"Officials worry that Latinos of all ages and African American seniors may be left unprotected if flu vaccination rates among the two groups do not increase," OHA's press release stated. "Latinos typically have high childhood immunization rates, yet only 39 percent of Latinos received a flu vaccine. African American seniors had a 61 percent vaccination rate compared to 73 percent for white seniors."

Children, pregnant women and people over 65 are especially vulnerable to the flu.

Not sure where to get a flu shot? You can visit this website to find a provider.