Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 hospitalizations occur from seasonal flu-related complications and nearly 36,000 people die.

But you can help stop the flu.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began to recommend that everyone at least six months and older receive a flu shot.

“The annual flu vaccine is the best defense against the flu,” says Marcos Pesquera, executive director of Adventist HealthCare’s Center on Health Disparities.

This season, Adventist HealthCare is offering flu shots for adults and children at nearly 50 sites throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland and surrounding communities. You can help stop the flu by visiting a clinic near you.

It is especially important that high-risk groups including children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, pregnant women and the elderly receive a flu shot. For people 65 years and older, a high-dose vaccine which contains four times the amount of antigen than the regular flu shot, is available and provides better protection for their weaker immune systems.

In addition to the ongoing clinics throughout the region, Adventist Healthcare is partnering with WTOP radio (103.5 FM) and M&T Bank to provide 103 free flu shots on Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 7-9:30 a.m. The free clinic will be held on the first floor of Westfield Montgomery Mall in North Bethesda.

While getting vaccinated is the best defense against the flu, Marcos says that people can also help stop the flu by washing their hands frequently, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated and staying home when they are sick.

Ultimately, “it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of flu in our community,” says Marcos.

Find a flu shot clinic at www.HelpStopTheFlu.com or call 1-800-542-5096.