“The vaccine is available at the health department, most retail pharmacies and physician offices. The ones who are at higher risk for complications as a result of the flu are those who are pregnant, really young, advanced age or have a chronic illness, such as asthma or heart disease,” Wagner said. “The recommendation remains that it’s not too late to get vaccinated.”
Experts say this year may not turn out to be unusually deadly. Roughly 100 children die in an average flu season, and it's not clear that will happen this year. On average, an estimated 24,000 Americans die each flu season. Elderly people with chronic health conditions are at greatest risk.
“I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary this year, but two to three years ago, it was really bad. We sent dozens of students home who had positive flu-like symptoms,” said Chris Smith, school nurse for Creekside and Blandy elementary schools. “The local health department comes to the schools and gives students flu shots with their parents’ permission. This year I’ve just seen more of a stomach virus.”
Health officials urge everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot, especially children, people age 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions, such as heart, lung or kidney disease or a weakened immune system.
“We have options to get vaccinated. You can get the vaccine sprayed in the nose, but it has a very weakened live virus, so we recommend the spray for those ages 2 to 49 who are healthy with no chronic illnesses. If you choose to get the flu shot, it’s a killed virus but there’s enough of it that your body will build resistance against the flu. We also have a high-dose version, which is recommended for people who are older with a slower immune system,” Jones said. “The fee for the vaccine is $25, unless covered by Medicaid, Medicare Part B, or a state health benefit plan.”