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Flu isn’t spreading fast or furious so far this season, but officials still advise anyone who hasn’t yet to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

In the U.S. each year, the flu lands more than 200,000 in the hospital and flu-related illnesses kill about 36,000. But estimates show those who get the flu vaccine are between 50 and 60 percent less likely to get the flu.

Spread the word out at your urgent care center, especially during National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 6-12).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. There have already been two confirmed flu-related pediatric deaths so far this season. Seasonal influenza activity increased slightly in recent weeks but remains low overall, according to the CDC’s flu report. Low to moderate flu activity is appearing in Oklahoma and South Carolina, and it’s expected to increase nationwide in the coming months. Flu season typically runs from November to as late as May.

The flu can spread more rapidly during the holiday season in crowded shopping centers, busy airports, and at family gatherings.

“People get flu when they are around people with flu,” Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer with the CDC, told HealthDay. “If we can get people to get vaccinated in the weeks before they leave for their holiday trips, that would be ideal.”

Urgent care centers should promote flu shot offerings.

We ask every patient that walks in if they want a flu shot,” said Molly Fulton, office manager at Arlington Urgent Care. The center also advertises the vaccine on the in-office screens and add flu shot search words to the center’s SEO online marketing.

First Med of Midland Urgent Care offers a $10 flu vaccine. And clinicians will go to offices or other off-site locations to administer shots for large groups, Dr. Terry Beck said.

A few fast facts about the flu:

  • The groups at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, and people aged 65 and older.
  • Every year the flu sickens between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Flu activity usually peaks between December and February. And it takes about two weeks for the antibodies in the vaccine  to build up in a person’s body after the shot is administered.
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