City officials are urging residents, especially those considered to be at high risk, to get vaccinated for the flu this season.
"You never know how vulnerable you're going to be," said Marena Works, director of Carson City Health and Human Services. "The flu vaccine is going to be your best protection."
According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, the flu season has started to peak nearly five weeks early this year, with 20 child deaths already reported.
Although specific numbers are not yet available for Carson City, Works said, it seems to be mimicking the national trend.
"We know it's here," she said. "I've talked to specific people who have the flu symptoms."
Whether this will be considered a bad season by the time it has run its course in the spring remains to be seen, said Dr. William Schaffner, a flu expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, in an Associated Press article.
The evidence so far points to a moderate season, Schaffner and others say. It looks bad in part because last year was unusually mild and because the main strain of influenza circulating this year tends to make people sicker and really lay them low.
Works emphasized it is not to late to be inoculated, saying the clinic is increasing its staffing next week to extend its ability to distribute the vaccine.
Both Carson City Health and Human Services and Douglas County Community Health have a ample supply, she said.
Walk-ins will be accepted 8:30-1:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. at both locations through Jan. 18. The clinic locations are 900 E. Long St., in Carson City and 1538 US Highway 395 (Stratton Center) in Gardnerville.
The flu is often characterized by fever, headaches and cough, Works said, and medical treatment may be required depending on severity of the symptoms.
"The flu can really progress to something serious," she said. "One of the biggest impacts is pneumonia. We don't want that in our population."
Those at high risk for the flu include people over age 50, who are pregnant, or have asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease. Others who should get vaccinated include people who live with, care for or visit those at high risk for flu complications.
Works cautioned people to also wash their hands frequently, sneeze into a sleeve and stay home from work and school when ill.
If you go
Flu shots are available at Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 E. Long St., and Douglas County Community Health, 1538 U.S. Highway 395. Walk-in hours are 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. at both locations through Jan. 18. Call 775-887-2190 or 775-782-9038 for more information.
Free flu shots will be offered at the Silver Stage Food Pantry, 3595 Ramsey Weeks Cutoff Road, in Silver Springs 10 a.m.-noon today. The shots are provided by nurses of Carson City Health and Human Services. Call 283-7905 for more information.