The Mahoning County Board of Health is anticipating a spike in flu cases in January and February.

Based on the board's data, spikes in Influenza A and B are common during those two months.

"It's following right in line with other years," said Mahoning County Health Commissioner Patt Sweeney. "It is not any higher than it has been in the past. But it is the time we do see it spike. As it gets dryer outside and cold, more inside germs have a tendency to spread a little bit more readily."

She added the best defense against the flu is to get a flu shot.

"Every year, thousands and thousands of people die, and there are hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations as a result of Influenza. So it isn't something to just ignore," said Sweeney.

Mahoning County Public Health offers the flu shot, and the shot is free under most insurances.

"The hardest-hit groups for influenza are the elderly that maybe have some chronic diseases, hypotension, respiratory issues like COPD, or someone who is getting cancer treatment. Those folks really do need to immunize. And so do healthy adults so they don't pass it on to others who maybe can't be immunized."

According to the CDC, "recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine."

Sweeney also said it is not too late to get a flu shot.