With flu season approaching, the Keck Medicine of USC community is being reminded that flu vaccinations are an important step toward protecting patients and colleagues.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that, in serious cases, can result in hospitalization or death. An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, said Stephanie Hall, MD, chief medical officer, Keck Medicine of USC.

“A simple yet essential way to protect our patients is to get an annual flu shot,” Hall said. “Getting our patients and ourselves vaccinated greatly reduces the risk of transmission of the flu virus,” which can occur even before the illness is evident.

Free flu vaccines will be available to all patients, students and staff starting in early September. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 3,300 Americans die each year from the flu and recommends everyone aged 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine by the end of October.

Last year, about 5 million flu illnesses were prevented by vaccination, according to CDC estimates.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health mandates that health care personnel in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities in Los Angeles County be vaccinated against influenza or wear a protective mask. The goal of the order is to lower the rates of transmission of influenza among health care personnel and the vulnerable populations they serve.

All Keck Medicine faculty and staff are required to receive a flu vaccine before Nov. 1. Additionally, front-line staff are encouraged to remind patients to get their flu vaccines.

Preservative-free and egg-free vaccines are available on request. Free flu vaccines are available through Employee Health Departments at Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. —Douglas Morino

For more information on how and when to receive the flu vaccine, visit kecknet.usc.edu.