Weekly challenge: Get a free flu shot

You probably know you’re supposed to get a seasonal flu shot at this time of year, but have you done it yet? If you haven’t, this week is the perfect time because the vaccine has been widely distributed throughout the state, and clinics are offering free walk-in shots for those who don’t want to make an appointment with their primary care provider.

Here’s a list of clinics offering immunizations over the next few weeks with no appointments needed; many are free and some are offered at a minimal cost of around $10. Read the fine print because some will vaccinate anyone over age six months, while others only offer shots to adults.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone over age six months—except for those with severe egg allergies (the vaccine is produced using eggs) or who have had a previous allergic reaction to the flu shot.

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Immunizations are especially crucial for pregnant women, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions because they’re most at risk of developing severe complications from the flu.

Parents should also make the extra effort to get their kids vaccinated because flu viruses can, in rare cases, kill. More than 800 children died over the past eight years from contracting the flu, and nearly half of them had no high-risk conditions such as asthma, according to the latest data presented by the CDC last week at an infectious disease meeting.

What’s more, a study conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which was also presented last week, found that when nearly half of kids in a school were immunized against the flu, total school absences declined. Even those who weren’t vaccinated enjoyed protection against the virus because of herd immunity.