HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia officials are urging members of the public to receive their influenza vaccines as the fall and winter months approach.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Shelton, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and other leaders attended a flu vaccine event hosted by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association at Bon Secours Hospital on Tuesday to encourage those at home to do so.

“Nobody wants to be sidelined with the flu,” said Dr. Karen Shelton. “And, while most healthy people get over the flu, people with underlying health issues are at greater risk for serious flu complications.”

Officials say the colder months to come are often associated with elevated rates of various types of respiratory illnesses such as the cold, flu, respiratory syntactical virus (RSV) and COVID-19.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 27,537 reported infections of influenza during the 2022-2023 flu season, compared to 5,071 infections during that same period of the 2021-2022 flu season.

Flu-related deaths in children have also seen an increase with five during the 2022-2023 flu season compared to one the year prior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine — with the exception of those with life-threatening allergies to the vaccine.

City leaders in attendance at Tuesday’s event stressed the vaccination is a community effort.

“Not only does it offer personal protection against illness, it is also a way to be considerate of our communities and the people around us,” Stoney said. “that’s because a case of the flu for medically vulnerable people, seniors, young children, can be very serious and potentially even fatal.”