MADISON, Ala - Last year was the most deadly flu season since the 1970's. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80,000 Americans died from influenza or flu-related illnesses. Officials with the Madison County Health Department want to help fight the flu.
They are holding flu clinics to offer free vaccines. One of those clinics was held at Madison City Hall on Tuesday.
"I didn't want to get the flu," Madison resident Claire Cook said.
All they have to do is fill out a form, present their insurance card and ID, and then they get a quick poke in the arm. People can still get free flu shots if they do not have health insurance.
"In the past, people have been hospitalized for not getting their flu shot and the strain changes each year, so it's very important to get your flu shot," registered nurse Shelbrina Lomax said.
The vaccine protects from several strains of the virus.
"And it does cover H1N1, H3N3 and the antigen 'B'," Lomax said.
Last year was the deadliest flu season in almost 4 decades. Lomax says it's too early to tell if this flu season will be as bad as last year. The flu season begins in October. The first flu death has already been reported.
"Unfortunately, there already has been a child that has passed away from the flu from this season and it was known to be an antigen 'B' that the child passed away from," she said.
Health Officials have confirmed that the child who died was not vaccinated. Lomax says the vaccine prevents catching the flu, but if a person does happen to get sick. "The chances are the flu vaccine will lessen the severity of the cold."
It takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective after a person receives their flu shot, so she urges people to get them early in the season.
People still have a chance to get a free flu shot. The Madison County Health Department will be holding another free flu shot clinic Wednesday, October 17th, at the Bob Harrison Wellness and Advocacy Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are also two more clinics scheduled after that.
Oct. 23 – Huntsville Police Department South Precinct, 7900 Bailey Cove Road SE, Huntsville
Oct. 26 – Maidson County Health Department, 301 Max Luther Dr. NW, Huntsville