State health officials say at least 16 people have died in Tennessee from influenza, with more than 500 people hospitalized by flu symptoms. And with the peak of flu season at hand, the Scott County Health Department is offering free vaccines to anyone who has not been vaccinated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone ages six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year, especially those who are at increased risk for flu complications, such as the elderly, those with autoimmune disorders and those with chronic diseases or illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes.

“Vaccination is the best protection against the flu,” Scott County Health Department director Art Miller said. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one now.”

While flu is typically thought of as a virus that is only deadly for at-risk people, health officials warn that anyone can be stricken with potentially deadly flu complications. A CDC study conducted between 2004 and 2012 found that 48 percent of all pediatric flu deaths involved children who were previously healthy. And, according to the CDC, 90 percent of children who died from the flu in 2013 had not been vaccinated.

The Health Department is offering flu shots and FluMist nasal spray for children. Both adults and children may receive the flu vaccine at the clinic, which is open 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. An appointment can be scheduled by calling 663-2445.