Flu season still in its prime, free flu shots available

This year's flu season has already claimed the lives of several people, including a third grader from Montgomery County.

Governor Kay Ivey declared a State Public Health Emergency due to the high risk of widespread exposure to the flu that could cause substantial harm to a large number of people. Several schools have been forced to close due to the flu, and hospitals are struggling to meet the high volume of patients.

Because of the outbreak, the Department of Health has opened many flu clinics around the state.

Northern District Administrator of Public Health, Judy Smith said 2018 has been a rare year for the number of flu cases.

"We are in the prime of flu season. We got probably another six weeks maybe two months that will be the prime time," said Smith. "We don't normally have dedicated flu clinics, but over the past couple of years, public health has made flu vaccine available all year around."

Smith said the flu shot is now available in all health departments throughout the state. She added that people in north Alabama can get the vaccination for free anytime between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

"It takes about two weeks to get full immunity from it. If somebody has already been exposed, will it keep them within the next week from getting the flu? Probably not," said Smith.

But there is good news.

"Even though it's not 100 percent effective, it does tend to diminish the symptoms and the severity of it."

Smith said children and adults older than 65 should get their flu shot because the virus can easily turn into something worse for them.

The CDC has compiled a list of steps you and your loved ones can take to prevent the flu. You can find that list and more information about the flu here.