The Centers for Disease Control, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, is putting new urgency behind its annual push for flu vaccinations. 

The agency urges everyone who can to make arrangement to receive the vaccine by the end of October. Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months and older. 

Flu shots (vaccinations) are available through most pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Vaccinations are also available in nasal spray form at some locations. Both types of vaccination are equally effective.

Getting a flu shot can reduce the risk of getting infected, but it can also reduce the severity of an infection when it occurs. 

Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they will reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths on the health care system as it continues to strain under the pressures of the pandemic. 

The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.

The CDC estimates that fewer than half of Americans received a flu vaccination in 2019 and there were 410,000 hospitalizations during the annual flu season. There were between 24,000 and 62,000 deaths from influenza in the United States in the 2019-20, according to the CDC, with elderly people, young children and pregnant women at elevated risk.