GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- It's that time of year again, when the flu starts to rear its nasty head and health officials are encouraging everyone, especially parents, to think about the flu shot.
The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the deadliest in decades, according to the CDC. Health officials say now is a good time to start thinking about the flu shot. "You can start getting a flu shot when you're six months old," said Marshall County Health Department Clinic Supervisor Sara Shelton.
Kids from six months through five years old are at an increased risk of the flu. The CDC encourages people to get vaccinated by the end of October. "We have it available now," Shelton said, "So you can start getting it now. You don't want to wait until too late in the season because you risk being exposed."
By waiting, you also risk exposing kids or adults over age 65 who are especially vulnerable. "Infants that can't get vaccinated yet or elderly whose immune system is suppressed. You want to make sure that you're protected and that you're protecting others," Shelton explained.
Of course, there are the usual lines of defense: wash your hands properly and often, cover your cough and sneeze with an arm, and clean and sterilize surfaces. "Also, don't send your kids to school when they're sick," Shelton said, "Don't just give them a fever reducer and send them on to school."
You can call your local health department to ask about flu shot availability. At the Marshall County Health Department, it's five dollars. You can come during normal business hours, and health officials start seeing patients at eight. You can call and set up an appointment, but you don't have to.