While students are getting familiar with their new classrooms and teachers, health officials are preparing to combat an unwanted guest prone to cropping up across the country every year - the seasonal flu.
In Ohio County, officials will start offering influenza shots starting Thursday. This year's concoction contains three strains. Clinics will be held at the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department from 9-11 a.m. and again from 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.
The season typically runs from November to April. It takes about two weeks to build immunity after receiving the shot. In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials say the best way to combat the flu is to wash one's hands frequently.
"We do have vaccine now in stock. We have also set our clinics to begin Sept. 1 and are currently scheduling off-campus clinics at several business, facilities and agencies. As of this afternoon we have 15 off-campus clinics set up," said Howard Gamble, health department administrator.
"Businesses are beginning to make sure their employees are vaccinated and protected during the upcoming flu seasons. We are getting inquires from the general public on our clinics and people are signing up for the clinics."
Gamble said flu seasons happen about the same time annually, but there are indicators about their severity.
"Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the epidemic depends on many factors, including what influenza viruses are spreading and whether they match the viruses in the vaccine. Sometimes we look at what is happening on the international level," he noted.