With flu season here, the Keck Medicine of USC community is being reminded that physicians, nurses and staff members are required to have their flu vaccines by Nov. 1.

An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and an important step toward protecting patients, our families and ourselves, said Stephanie Hall, MD, chief medical officer, Keck Medicine of USC.

“By getting a flu vaccine, we greatly reduce the risk of transmission of the flu virus to our patients and colleagues,” Hall said. “The flu vaccine is a safe, simple way to prevent the spread of the flu.”

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, she said.

Free flu vaccines are available to all patients and staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine by the end of October. The CDC estimates that as many as 3,300 die each year from the flu. Transmission of the flu virus can occur even before the illness is evident.

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

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.

Preservative-free and egg-free vaccines are available on request. Free flu vaccines are available through Employee Health locations at Keck Medical Center and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. For more information on how and when to receive the flu vaccine, go to kecknet.usc.edu.