View of NYC street corner during the start of a winter storm.

Historically, flu season reaches its peak during the winter months of December – February (Credit: Jeffrey Zeldman)

If the recent weather we’ve been having is any indication, it is time for all of us to start thinking about flu season.

As many of us know from personal experience, influenza (flu) is an incredibly severe, dangerous, and contagious respiratory infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. Every year, over 2,000 New Yorkers die from the flu and its related complications, and hundreds of thousands more City residents are forced to miss days of work, school, and other important obligations upon infection.

And when you consider the fact that last year’s flu season was one of the worst in recent memory for people across the country, it has become clear that now is the time to protect yourself and your family from this year’s flu virus.

Child washing hands at a sink.

Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time helps keep viruses and other harmful pathogens from causing infection or disease. (Credit: Katherine Johnson)

So this season, give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind by getting this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine, or flu shot.

The vaccine, which is safe and widely available across the five boroughs, is the best form of protection against the flu virus. Updated every year to protect against new viruses, the flu shot is recommended for all New Yorkers aged six months or older.

In addition, all children who are 6–59 months old and are currently attending NYC-licensed pre-kindergarten, group child care, or school-based child care programs, are required to receive this year’s flu shot by December 31, 2018.

To learn more about this year’s flu shot, families should speak with their health care providers, visit their nearest pharmacies, or stop by one of the City’s clinics or hospitals. Most insurance plans, including Medicaid, pay for the vaccine, and many locations offer the shot for free or low-cost. Moreover, City public school students who are enrolled in schools that have School-Based Health Centers can receive their flu shots, free of charge.

Need to search for vaccination locations by neighborhood or zip code? Visit, text flu to 877877, or call 311.

For more information about the flu virus and vaccine, visit the City’s Seasonal Influenza website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Flu site.

On behalf of the DOE, we wish everyone a safe and healthy winter season!


The flu shot is one of the vaccinations required for NYC students enrolled in City public schools or child care programs. Learn more about the City’s vaccination requirements for children by using our handy immunization chart.

The Morning Bell

Official blog for the NYC Department of Education, home of over 1.1 million students across 1,800+ schools

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