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Why you should get a flu shot before Halloween and where to get one for free

Needles may be scary for some people, but health experts say not getting a flu shot this season could mean disaster.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The year is flying by and Halloween is just around the corner. In addition to preparing some safe alternative spooky celebrations, health experts say you should consider getting what some people are afraid of. A flu shot.

"We recommend people get a flu shot before Halloween ideally," said Tom Iovino, the public information officer for the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. "You need to have at least two weeks of time with the vaccine in your body to develop full antibodies, so the sooner you get it in the flu season, the better off you are. If you wait until December or January you may have already run into a strain and it may be too late to get the vaccine."

With the coronavirus still spreading every day, Iovino says you should do what you can to protect yourself from one illness that spreads this time of year. It is possible to test positive and suffer symptoms from both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

RELATED: How can I tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control says at least 24,000 people died from the flu last year in the United States.

To make it easy and safe to get a flu shot, the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is hosting a 'Say Boo to the Flu' drive-through event, giving out free flu shots first come, first served.

  • Tuesday Oct. 20: St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. 
  • Wednesday Oct. 21: Mid-County: 8751 Ulmerton Rd., Largo 
  • Thursday Oct. 22: Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave. 

Hours at the above locations are from 5 to 7 p.m. Adults and children over the age of three can get the vaccine at no cost. You can fill out your forms ahead of time to expedite the process.

Most insurance providers also are offering to cover the cost of the flu vaccine for free. COVID-19 has prompted safety changes like social distancing, so many pharmacies are offering drive-through options to get your flu shot.

The CDC recommends everyone six months or older get a vaccinations, with only rare exceptions.

All the things you do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing will also help prevent the spread of the flu.

"Even if the flu shot you get isn't the same strain that's spreading around this year, it will still protect you and help you feel less serious symptoms," said Iovino.

RELATED: Doctors say second wave of COVID-19 infections in Florida is preventable

RELATED: Doctors advise against small indoor gatherings this holiday season

RELATED: Here's what you should stop doing right now to boost your immune system

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