Like the stalking shark of "Jaws," there is a particular onomatopoetic "dun nun, dun nun" that chases each person from the end of summer to early spring -- the flu.

Anyone who is at least 6 months old is encouraged to get a flu shot, said Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach.

"They are expecting this to be a season with a large amount of the flu," she said. "Each person needs to check with their medical provider; most providers in our community do give influenza shots, as well as many pharmacies."

Through Tuesday, Oct. 15, Baptist Health in Madisonville will be hosting its annual flu vaccination clinic from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. during the workweek, according to a news release. No appointment is necessary.

The cost of a regular vaccination is $40 and is $70 for a high dose, which is recommended for patients 65 and older. To attend the clinic, patients must be at least 3 years old. Children younger than 3 should see their pediatrician.

Vaccinations are especially important for people who are at high risk of severe complications from influenza, such as adults over 65, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease or stroke, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

"One of the most important ways to prevent influenza or other illnesses is handwashing," said Beach. "If someone has symptoms of the flu, which is a rapid onset of illness, joint aches, fever, respiratory symptoms and cough, they need to stay home from any outside activities if they believe they have influenza and speak to their medical provider if they do have flu symptoms."

Beach said influenza is nothing to take lightly. Last year, there were around 61,000 deaths caused by the illness.

"It is a serious illness; it is not the same thing as just a common cold," she said. "The very young and senior adults are more susceptible to more serious outcomes from influenza."

Though it is a severe illness, Beach said it is easily preventable.

"With taking good precautions -- using hand washing, using influenza vaccination, doing a combination of these things -- we can prevent a serious illness that cost us to miss work or miss school and has serious complication for some," said Beach. "It's also crucial for those who are around an infant under 6 months old to be vaccinated because that infant cannot be until their sixth month. Anyone who is going to be around a newborn needs to be vaccinated so that they don't risk giving influenza to a young infant."

If you can't make the event at Baptist Health, many pharmacies in the area have flu vaccines available. At Kroger, vaccine-seekers can head to the pharmacy and sign their vaccination consent form, said pharmacy technician Jennifer Seiber.

"Sign, date and answer a few questions, then they will administer the vaccination," she said.

Kroger's Store Manager Ricky Walker said, "Most of the time, the insurance will pay for it, but not all insurance does. Some times it's free, but some times it's not -- it all depends on what your insurance pays."

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