Children are back in school and germs are beginning to invade — now is the time to start thinking about flu prevention. You owe it to yourself, your family and your co-workers to be protected with vaccination.Influenza is a serious disease that causes more than 25 million illnesses, more than 150,000 hospitalizations and over 30,000 deaths every year in the U.S. alone. Prevention is key.The single best prevention available is an annual flu vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older.Frequent hand washing helps. In addition, staying home and away from groups of people when you are sick with fever and cough or runny nose also may reduce the spread. Yearly vaccination is necessary because the flu vaccine you received last season won't protect you this current flu season.This year the CDC has recommended that FluMist, a nasal spray flu vaccine, not be used. The recommendation is based on data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness of FluMist from 2013 through 2016.For active-duty service members, this means that FluMist will not count to meet the annual flu immunization requirement this year. It also means Anne Arundel County will not give your elementary school children the vaccine during school this year.Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center will offer free flu vaccinations to active-duty service members, retirees and their family members, and to DoD civilian employees who are Tricare beneficiaries (and not primed to Johns Hopkins).The vaccines will be given at McGill Training Center, 8452 Zimborski Ave., on the following dates:Retiree Appreciation Day: Oct 21, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Air Force, Navy and Marines: Oct. 24-28, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.General population: Oct. 24-28, noon to 3:30 p.m.General population: Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.Eligible beneficiaries may also get their flu shot at a participating network pharmacy.Editor's note: For more information, go to TRICARE.mil/flu/ or visit the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control's flu website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.