This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.This week marks the official start of flu season in the U.S. Beginning in October and lasting through May, flu season is the period when flu germs are most likely to be circulating and to make people sick. Each fall, the flu returns and brings with it the fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, muscle aches and fatigue that many of us dread. The symptoms can be mild and last only a few days, or can be severe and hang around for weeks. For those with underlying health conditions, like asthma or diabetes, the flu can make those illnesses worse. Even in otherwise healthy people, flu can lead to complications like ear infections and pneumonia. You can help prevent the flu by taking a few easy steps now and throughout the flu season.• Get your flu vaccine: Available as either a shot or as a nasal spray, an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. Everyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated, except people who are allergic to eggs, those with a previous severe reaction to flu vaccine, or people with a history of Guillain–Barr Syndrome. Check out the flu clinic this Saturday at the Carson City Corporate yard to get vaccinated for free.•Wash your hands: Handwashing prevents the spread of flu and other germs, like the common cold. Good hand hygiene can protect you against many types of germs. Use soap and water or, if it is not available, hand sanitizer, to keep your hands clean.• Cover your cough: If you find yourself coughing and sneezing, use your elbow to cover it up and prevent spreading germs to those around you.• If you do become ill, stay home to avoid making others sick.Get your free flu vaccine: Join Carson City Health and Human Services from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for our 9th annual Free Flu Vaccination Exercise. This year’s event will be held at the Carson City Corporate Yard, located at 3303 Butti Way (between Fairview Drive and Airport Road). Save time at the clinic by visiting www.gethealthycarsoncity.org to download and fill out your form in advance. Forms will be available on Saturday for those who do not have a form already completed.Carson City Healthand Human Services900 E. Long St.,Carson City.Call 775-887-2195.Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; call for appointment.Well-child visits: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays.Men's clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays.Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays.Douglas CountyCommunity Health1538 Highway 395 North (Corner of Spruce Street and Cemetery Lane).Call 775-782-9038.Clinic hours: 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.Monday is Immunization Day: No appointment needed, 1-4:30 p.m.