The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you get a flu shot before the end of October, but getting vaccinated remains worthwhile late into the year.
"The question is typically, 'Will it last? If I get it early, will it last through the season?' And the answer to that is yes," says Cynthia Wacker, manager of Mission Ministry & Outreach for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. "It really does last — keeps that immunity for up to a year — but you do need to get a flu shot every year. It's critical."
Flu shots are especially important for members of high-risk groups, including children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, nursing home residents and those with certain medical conditions. People from these groups are prone to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, according to the CDC.
But Wacker says the flu can affect everyone differently. For example, a 20-something with a poor diet might experience worse symptoms than a healthy, active senior.
Regardless of your own risk factors, don't just get a flu shot for yourself, Wacker says.
"It's important for your family," she points out. "If you're a grandparent, it's important that you are not going to get the flu so that your children don't get it, your grandchildren don't get it, the people in your church. All the people that you're around."
El Paso County Public Health recorded 458 influenza-related hospitalizations last winter. If that doesn't scare you, at least take pity on your neighbors, relatives and coworkers, and go get a dang shot.
Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder
for a list of clinic locations. Your insurance should cover a flu shot without charging a copay, but may restrict the locations or health care providers — so check with your insurance provider if you're worried about that.
Most pharmacies charge around $20 to $45 per flu shot for people paying out of pocket.
Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses will also provide free flu shots for uninsured and underinsured adults, and children over 4 years old, at one-day clinics in various locations around the city.
The nurses have a limited number of free vaccines available, Wacker says, so they ask that if you do have insurance and can get a free shot elsewhere, to please do so.
Their remaining schedule for 2019 includes the following dates:
• Wednesday, Oct. 16
from 10 a.m. to noon at Family Connections, 917 E. Moreno Ave.
• Thursday, Oct. 17
from noon to 2 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument
• Saturday, Oct. 19
from 5 to 7 p.m., and
• Sunday, Oct. 20
from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 2715 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
• Wednesday, Oct. 23
from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Ecumenical Social Ministries, 201 N. Weber St.
• Tuesday, Oct. 29
from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Westside Cares, 2808 Colorado Ave.
• Wednesday, Oct. 30
from 1 to 3 p.m. at Grace Be Unto You Outreach Church, 3195 Airport Road
• Tuesday, Nov. 5
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Marian House, 14 W. Bijou St.
• Wednesday, Nov. 27
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Springs Rescue Mission, Thanksgiving, City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.