North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen is putting her upper arm where her mouth is.

She’s getting a flu shot this week at the Wake County Public Health Center with plenty of media around as one way to help convince North Carolinians to get a flu vaccination this year.

State health officials tell citizens to have their flu vaccination every year or twice a year. However, this year, they say, it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated for the flu. This fall, they expect to see the usual large numbers of flu cases – which can be deadly – however, they’re also expecting a new wave of the coronavirus.

The fear is that having those two diseases cycling through the state at the same time will overtax the state’s hospital system. So, health officials are encouraging all North Carolinians to get vaccinated for the flu this year.

Like COVID-19, the flu can be deadly, but, unlike COVID-19, there is a vaccine for the flu currently available and state health officials said this week that there were 186 flu deaths reported in North Carolina last year. Of those, 105 were people age 65 and older – while five were children under the age of 18.

Health officials argue that vaccinations are the best way to avoid getting the flu – or to have a chance of having milder symptoms if you do get the flu.

Flu shots are readily available right now at drug stores, public health facilities, hospitals, and other places– in some cases at no charge to the recipient. Also, a good number of employers hold flu vaccine clinics for their employees. To name one example, each year in late summer or early fall, a county nurse shows up before a Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting and gives the commissioners a shot in the arm.

People in the state who don’t know where to get a flu shot can visit to find places where they can get a shot in the arm.