The Williamson County and Cities Health District is offering free flu shots for anyone age 6 months or older, as officials report an early surge of influenza-like illness this year.

From Oct. 7-Nov. 4, the number of reported flu-like illnesses to the health district jumped from 781 cases to roughly 2,400. During the same period in 2021, the district had received 370 reports of respiratory illnesses—a sign this year’s flu season could be severe, according to the district. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory Nov. 4, warning the combination of respiratory illnesses detected throughout the nation could strain health care systems.

“With the really high rate of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), it’s really impacting younger kids, and the hospitals are kind of getting filled up with pediatric-age kids who are experiencing really bad repository illness, this year’s flu and, of course, COVID[-19],” health district spokesperson Deb Strahler said.

As of Nov. 18, 280 staffed hospital beds out of 3,854 were available in the state’s Trauma Service Area O, which includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, San Saba, Travis and Williamson counties. The number of available staffed pediatric ICU beds also dropped to two.

“Many people who get a respiratory illness, including infants and other children, can be diagnosed and treated by a health care provider without a trip to the emergency room,” said Dr. Amanda Norwood, WCCHD medical director and health authority, in a news release. “Following your health care provider's guidance may help avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.”

Those with RSV or other respiratory illnesses may experience cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing and fever. To help reduce the spread of respiratory illness, the WCCHD is urging the public to take preventive measures, including hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, staying home when sick, wearing a mask and getting a COVID-19 booster or flu shot.

Strahler said the flu vaccine people received last year has “likely worked its way through your system and waned its effectiveness.”

“It does take typically two weeks for your body to put up that full immunity against the flu, so we’re really encouraging people to come in and get it now,” she said.

Flu shots and COVID-19 vaccinations are available with an appointment at WCCHD centers, including the Cedar Park Public Health Center, 350 Discovery Blvd., Ste. 102; Georgetown Public Health Center, 100 W. 3rd St.; Round Rock Public Health Center, 355 Texas Ave.; and Taylor Public Health Center, 115 W. 6th St. Walk-up clinics are also available at certain sites on Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

For more information about flu shot locations and appointments, visit or call 512-943-3600.