LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles County health officials are  reminding residents that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

The virus is now widespread and has hit that point earlier than in past years, health officials said Tuesday, Jan. 17.

“Influenza typically peaks in January and February and can linger well into the spring, so vaccination for anyone over 6 months of age is still highly recommended,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

“By getting vaccinated now, you can protect yourself at the time of year when you are most likely to be exposed to the flu virus,” he said.

Health officials urged everyone to frequently wash their hands and stay home when ill to reduce the spread of the flu.

Those at greater risk for complications include:

— pregnant women;

— children under 5 and adults 65 years old and older;

— people with weakened immune systems, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or conditions affecting the nervous system;

— individuals who are overweight or obese;

— healthcare personnel and staffers in nursing homes or long-term care facilities; and

— child care workers.

Children 6 months to 8 years old should get a second flu vaccine dose this season for better protection, according to county health officials.

Most insurance plans cover vaccines at no cost and many pharmacies offer flu vaccines.

The county offers free flu vaccines for residents without insurance or a regular doctor.

More information can be found at http://bit.ly/FluVaccineInfo or by calling the county information line at 211.