JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The flu has already reached Duval County. Now is the time to protect your family. The Duval County Health Department offers free flu vaccines to children 18 years and younger. You do not have to have insurance to receive the shots for free.
The vaccine protects against serious illness, preventing a child from having to be hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say while flu seasons vary in severity, thousands of children are hospitalized each year for complications related to infection.
From the 2010 to 2020 flu season, the CDC says flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years old ranged from 7,000 to 26,000 per year in the United States.
While it is rare for a child to die from flu complications, it has happened. According to the CDC, since 2004, the number of deaths each year ranged from 37 to 199 children. Eighty percent of those children were not vaccinated.
“My message to my parents is that vaccinations are very safe,” explained Dr. Akilah Pope, a pediatrician and the medical executive director of the Duval County Health Department. “They’re very effective. They help to protect us and our loved ones against potential diseases that are preventable through vaccines.”
While she recommends all children older than 6 months receive a flu vaccine, she said they are especially important for children considered most vulnerable to serious illness if infected with the flu.
“Anybody under the age of 8, I would probably say are more vulnerable,” Pope said, adding that serious flu infections can lead to pneumonia.
You should know all vaccines, including the flu vaccine, are free to children at the Duval County Health Department. The vaccine should be available starting next month. You can make an appointment by calling 904- 253-1130.
You can also request a voucher for a free flu shot online: click here.
The health department offers the vaccines at both of its clinics, one on Pearl Street, and the other on University Boulevard.
The Duval County school district is also partnering again this year with Health Hero and will be offering the shots to students in school sometime this month, so be on the lookout for information sent home with your student.