It’s Time for a Flu Shot! Here’s What You Need to Know.

By Jennifer Alexander, contributing writer, FNL Public Affairs and Communications Office; photo by Mary Ellen Hackett
Photo of a nurse administering a vaccine to a man outside

Dr. James Phang (right) receives his flu shot from Occupational Health Services nurse, Tina Watts (left) at the clinic outside Building 426. Dr. Phang served as a scientist at NCI for 50 years and continues his work as a scientist emeritus.

With all the talk around COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, it's easy to forget there's another infectious respiratory disease already looming: influenza. Flu season is going to look a little different this year, according to Sarah Hooper, nurse practitioner (CRNP), RN, manager of the Frederick National Laboratory Occupational Health Services (OHS). Previously, sniffles and a cough were automatically thought of as a sign of the common cold. Now, they can also be symptoms of COVID-19.

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, Hooper said it’s crucial to be wary of the flu. Flu season was almost nonexistent last year as most of the country was under lockdown and following COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Since COVID-19 prevention guidelines also reduce the risk of the flu, flu cases were down from 2019. Hooper said she’s already seeing some flu cases in the Frederick community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older (with rare exceptions) get a flu shot before flu season is in full swing. OHS is offering free flu clinics for all NCI-Frederick and FNL employees. “Don’t wait for winter weather,” Hooper said. “October is an excellent time to get vaccinated against the flu.”

 Here are some important points about this year's OHS flu clinic:

  • Employees intending to receive a flu vaccine should wear clothing that does not restrict access to the upper arm. Changing areas will not be available.
  • To ensure minimal contact and smooth operation, OHS asks that employees bring along a signed consent form. To receive a copy of this form, go to the OHS webpage at or email OHS for a copy at
  • OHS will continue the drive-thru and outside walk-up flu clinic to provide employees with the opportunity to get the flu vaccine.
  • Employees 65 and older are eligible to receive a high-dose vaccine that has been shown to enhance protection against influenza in this age group. To learn more about the high-dose flu shot, visit:

OHS drive-in or walk-up influenza clinics are held at the following locations:




NCI at Frederick campus, Building 426 parking lot*

Wednesday and Friday

12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

ATRF, 8560 Progress Drive, front parking lot

Wednesday and Friday

12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Typically, flu vaccines protect against four viruses, and the composition is reviewed annually to match the circulating strains. For 2021–2022, the CDC recommends the Flucelvax Quadrivalent cell- or recombinant-based vaccines that aim to protect against the following strains: A/Wisconsin/588/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus, A/Cambodia/e0826360/2020 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Washington/02/2019- like virus (B/Victoria lineage), and B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).

These recommendations include two updates compared with 2020–2021 US flu vaccines. Both the influenza A(H1N1) and the influenza A(H3N2) vaccine virus components were updated. Compared with the Southern Hemisphere flu vaccine recommendation, this recommendation represents one update and that is to the influenza A(H3N2) component.


Jennifer Alexander is a communications specialist in the Frederick National Laboratory Public Affairs and Communications Office. The Public Affairs and Communications Office provides communication across internal and external channels to help tell the story of the Frederick National Laboratory to employees, the local community, and the global scientific community.