HUNTINGTON - Though afternoon highs are expected to top out in the mid-90s this week, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is already gearing up for flu season.
The department kicked off its annual vaccination efforts Monday night with an early Halloween-themed event "Say BOO to the Flu" in its office in downtown Huntington. In addition to free flu shots, the event featured free food, inflatables for children, and costume contests for children, adults and pets.
Part of a nationwide campaign to prepare early for the coming season, "Say BOO to the Flu" is sponsored by the Cabell/Wayne Medical Reserve Corps.
Flu vaccinations remain at full strength for about six months and will cover an individual for around nine months. This means a shot in September would be at full strength at the region's general peak for the flu around late January through February, while remaining viable well into spring.
Vaccinations are readily available at most medical providers, including many pharmacies, and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department offers free vaccinations at its clinic, located at 703 7th Ave.
National flu surveillance for the 2019-20 season has not started yet, and it is still speculative which strains will be active or how active the flu will be this coming year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 80,000 Americans died of influenza-related illnesses during the 2017-18 season.