Like a moving target, flu viruses are constantly changing and affect different people in different ways. This makes every flu season different,A dart in the middle of a bullseye target and is the reason why everyone six months and older should be vaccinated each and every year.

While flu shots are readily available at local clinics and pharmacies, we provide free flu shots at our clinics for adults and children who don’t have health insurance, and for children who have BadgerCare. We also go out into the community, giving flu shots in places like schools and on farms, ensuring that those who lack insurance or who have transportation or scheduling issues have opportunities to be vaccinated.

While some may think that the flu is just like a bad cold and they don’t need the vaccine, the flu is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Having the flu can lead to complications like pneumonia. In 2016, over 55,000 people with a combination of flu and pneumonia died, making it the 8th most common cause of death that year. Even young, healthy people can be affected.

With symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, headache, body aches and fatigue, the flu typically lasts about 3 to 7 days, though you may have a cough and fatigue for more than a total of two weeks. That can add up to a lot of missed work or school.

We may start to see cases of flu in our area as early as October, and can continue to see them as late as the following spring, so it’s recommended to get the flu vaccine before it starts to spread in our community, preferably by the end October. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects those in our community who are more vulnerable, such as young infants, the elderly, and people whose immunity is compromised. When those who can be immunized do so, the amount of flu circulating in our community is greatly lessened.

The flu vaccine is safe, and it’s effective. Even when it’s not 100% effective in a given year, getting the vaccine may reduce how sick you will be if you get the flu, how much time you may miss from work or school, and your chance of being hospitalized.

So hit the bullseye and get your flu shot now. If you have health insurance, call your clinic. Pharmacies also give flu shots. We give free flu shots by appointment for adults who do not have health insurance, and children who do not have health insurance or who have BadgerCare. To schedule an appointment, call (608) 266-4821.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.