It is now the official start of flu season and heath officials are urging everyone to get their flu shot.
Children over six months, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, like cancer patients and the elderly are the most susceptible to the influenza virus.
Doctor Vicki Whitacre of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department said last year’s flu shot will not protect you from the new strains of flu circulating this season.
"Flu shots only last six months," said Whitacre, "so it’s really important that you get your flu shot every year, so that you get the new immunity and hope that your retain a little bit of immunity to last year’s in case it’s there also."
Last year 34 children died nationwide from the flu, the lowest and shortest peak of the illness on record.
Whitacre said while doctors can’t guarantee immunity from the flu with a vaccine, studies of other countries during their flu seasons gives them an idea of where to start.
"Flu likes cold weather so, we find out what is going on in the cold weather countries in the spring," said Whitacre, "then start making our flu vaccine based on what they’re seeing there and hoping that’s what is going to be the one for this year."
Residents of Muskingum County can take advantage of free flu shots later this month.
The Health Department will host free flu shot clinics on Thursday, October 11th at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds as well as the Dresden and Harrison Township fire departments.
The county purchased 3,000 doses of the vaccine through levy funds, which are to be distributed only to Muskingum County residents 18 and older.
Doctor Whitacre said if you have the virus, its easy to keep from spreading it to others.
"Wash your hands, cough in your elbow, or cough away from people," added Whitacre. "Go wash your hands if you’re coughing a lot or going in and out of doors and handling things that other people may have touched and not been as careful as you to protect yourself."
For more information on the free flu shot clinic you can visit the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department’s website at http://www.zmchd.org.