Flu season has arrived, and residents who want to be vaccinated against the virus have plenty of options for getting their shot.
“The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website. “Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.”
According to the Maricopa County Health Department, the flu virus often leads to high hospitalization rates in the winter months, and puts stress on the healthcare system, especially with COVID-19 also circulating across the state.
It takes two weeks to develop antibodies, so it is important to get vaccinated before flu is circulating widely in the county, health experts said. While getting a flu shot doesn’t prevent people from getting the flu, it does reduce a person’s chance of getting it and passing it to others, including those who are at higher risk for severe symptoms, experts said. Cases in those who are vaccinated tend to be milder and there is less chance of hospitalization.
Those with insurance should check with their health care provider or locate a nearby flu shot clinic by visiting vaccinefinder.org/find-vaccine.The shot is free with many insurance plans.
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health operates three free childhood immunization clinics for children up to their 19th birthday. Uninsured or under-insured adults also can receive vaccinations through the clinics.
The closest to the West Valley is the West Clinic at 1850 N. 95th Ave., Suite 184, in Phoenix. Residents may call 602-506-5888 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to check on vaccine availability.
Vaccines for foreign travel are not available at the county clinics.
In addition to the county clinics, there are dozens of community events in the Valley where adults and children can receive a free flu shot, regardless of insurance status. To find one, visit maricopa.gov/1873/Influenza-Flu.
For more information about this year’s flu season and flu vaccines, visit.cdc.gov/flu.