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Why experts say now is the time to get your flu shot

Health experts warn it's important to get the flu shot early this year, expecting a tough season

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — On a hot, late St. Louis weekend, it might feel strange to be thinking about the flu shot—but as nearly a thousand people who’ve gotten the flu shot at St. Charles Community College at their Friday afternoon clinic know, now is the time to get it done.

It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to start working—for your body to develop antibodies. That's why the St. Charles County Department of Public Health is recommending you get the shot now, so you're prepared by the time traditional flu season begins.

“They're saying that the flu may be worse this year and with the COVID and everything else, I thought it was better to get it sooner than later,” said Keith McCrady, one of the first in line for the shot.

Efforts to reduce COVID's spread are credited for our historically mild flu season last year, but health experts warn this season could be worse than average.

“We do have concern that because it wasn't circulating as heavy last year, that maybe our antibodies won't be as strong naturally to influenza,” said Sara Evers, acting director of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. “So it's important that everyone get their vaccination and prevent influenza this year.”

But again this year, the coronavirus is still a real concern—a flu vaccine can help there too.

“With COVID still circulating in our community, there's a possibility that you could have both COVID and influenza at the same time,” said Evers. “And having an influenza vaccine on board definitely helps prevent those severe outcomes in hospitalization.”

Check out these free flu vaccination clinics happening around St. Louis this weekend.