With many focused on rising cases of COVID-19, it’s easy to overlook the oncoming flu season, but Prince George’s County, Maryland, health officials are emphasizing the importance of flu shots.
“Don’t forget about it because flu is not going anywhere,” said Diane Young, an associate director with the county’s health department.
County health leaders are holding a series of flu shot clinics, offering free shots to residents.
“You don’t even have to make an appointment,” Young said. “You can walk up whenever we are having them.”
The first clinic was Saturday at the Southern Area Aquatics and Recreation Complex, in Brandywine.
The next clinic will be held Oct. 7 at the Springhill Lake Recreation Center in Greenbelt from 1 to 7 p.m. After that, a clinic is set for Oct. 9 at Spirit of Faith Christian Center in Oxon Hill from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Flu vaccines will be available to anyone six months old and older. People younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian.
“Getting your flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from getting very sick or dying from the flu,” said Dr. George Askew, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for Health, Human Services and Education. “If you skip your flu shot, you are more vulnerable to severe illness and death if you get the flu, and more likely to spread the virus to others around you.”
Older people, young children and people with certain health conditions are at high risk of serious flu complications.
“Getting annual flu shots prevents millions of illnesses, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of flu deaths nationwide every season,” said the county’s health officer, Dr. Ernest Carter. “Keeping each other safe and healthy from the flu takes the same vigilance that we have had during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the time, flu activity peaks between December and February.