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Officials from the Health Department warn of severe flu season and urge vaccinations

Jeri Stuart has been unable to get a flu shot for years. The 54-year-old breast cancer survivor doesn’t want to risk her health.

Last week, she received her flu shot.

She said, “My mother always hounded” me to do them. “I decided, you know what? Let’s do everything we can to make sure I don’t get sick.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone six months and older to get their flu shot. Public health officials worry about false security following two milder flu seasons because of COVID precautions.

Australia experiences winter earlier than the U.S. and just suffered its worst flu season in five years.

“I am not alarmist but I am concerned. It’s likely to be a more severe strain of flu,” Dr. Michael Phillips at NYU Langone Health, an infectious disease expert. There are specific vaccines for people over 65 that can be administered to reduce the risk of death and hospitalization.

According to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey, less than half of Americans plan to get the flu shot this year. Only a third feel comfortable getting both the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination simultaneously.

Stuart opted for both a flu shot as well as the bivalent COVID booster. The CDC recommends that they be given together.

She said, “If it’s something that will help lessen symptoms then every bit helps.”

Flu season usually begins in October and peaks between December and February. It can also last until the spring. The flu shot, like COVID vaccines, can’t prevent you from getting sick, but it can reduce the chance of being hospitalized and even death.

If you want to find a pharmacy or clinic that offers the kind of flu shot you need, visit vaccines.gov/find-vaccines then type in your zip code.

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