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CHAMPAIGN — About half a year after a long, severe flu season finally tapered off, health experts say it's time to get that annual shot again.
Community flu-shot clinics in and around Champaign County will get underway at the end of next week, and five of the dates will be drive-thru options — meaning many people won't have to get out of their cars.
Carle's flu clinics will be in a new spot this year — at its North Annex at 810 W. Anthony Drive, U, where it will offer both drive-thru and walk-in options.
The Carle drive-thru clinics will be offered on four weekend days — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 and 29 and noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30.
Christie Clinic will offer a new drive-thru option this year — 7 a.m. to noon Oct. 6 at its facility at 1801 W. Windsor Road, C.
Getting vaccinated for the flu every year is advised for nearly everyone ages 6 months and up, ideally before the end of October. It takes about two weeks for protection from flu shots to kick in, and last year, flu was already picking up in November.
Carle or Christie will both be administering injectable vaccine only — though the nasal vaccine removed for the past two flu seasons is back in the lineup for the 2018-19 flu season.
Carle spokeswoman Jamie Mullin said it is sticking to shots only this year out of caution and plans to see how well the nasal vaccine performs over the next year or two.
That's in line with an American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement this month recommending the shot as the preferred option for children because of the nasal vaccine's lower effectiveness in prior years against one strain and because it's an unknown for this coming season.
All of Carle's flu-shot clinics in Champaign-Urbana will be held at its North Annex location.
The walk-in clinics will be held from 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Oct. 2 to Nov. 20. Weekend walk-in clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays from Oct. 6 to Nov. 18.
Carle will also hold flu-shot clinics at its branches in Danville, Mattoon and Tuscola as follows:
— 8-11 a.m. Sept. 29 at 301 E. Southline Road, Tuscola, for those 6 months and older.
— 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 1-2 at 2512 Hurst Drive, Mattoon, for those 6 months and older.
— 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 6 at 311 W. Fairchild St., Danville, for adults only.
All of Christie Clinic's walk-in flu-shot clinics for Champaign-Urbana will be at its Windsor Road facility. They are set for the following times and dates:
— 7 a.m. to noon Sept. 29.
— 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 2, 9, 16 and 23.
— 3-7 p.m. Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25.
— 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 6 and 13.
— 3-7 p.m. Nov. 8, 15 and 29.
Christie Clinic will also hold walk-in flu shot-clinics from 7 a.m. to noon Oct. 6 at these four branches: 3545 N. Vermilion St., Danville; 1001 Commercial Drive, Mahomet; 209 W. Borman Drive, Rantoul, and 300 N. Main St., Tuscola.
By the numbers
Thinking of skipping the flu shot? Here are a few things to keep in mind from the 2017-18 flu season:
— 180 children died, half of whom were otherwise healthy; 80 percent of them hadn't gotten a flu shot for that season.
— The percentage of deaths overall from flu and pneumonia was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks.
— From Oct. 1, 2017, through April 28, 2018, there were 30,453 lab-confirmed flu-related hospitalizations reported.