Manny Hernandez receives a free flu shot at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System's clinic at 450 E. Romie Lane. (Photo courtesy of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System)

Manny Hernandez was one of more than 400 people to get a free flu shot Saturday in Salinas and the first one in line.

Hernandez, 51, said he feels it’s his responsibility to get vaccinated and he’s in a couple of high-risk categories for COVID-19.

He brought his whole family with him to the clinic at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System at 450 E. Romie Lane in Salinas.

“With COVID out there, we need to protect ourselves as much as we can,” Hernandez said in a statement. I’m doing this to protect myself and others too.”

Pete Delgado, President and CEO of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, said in a statement, “It’s encouraging to see so many families partner with us to stay healthy this winter.”

The flu killed 34,200 people during the fall and winter of 2018-2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Keeping people out of the hospital with the flu will free up hospital beds for people recovering from the coronavirus.

Two more clinics will be held in October.

The first will be Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Palma High School at 919 Iverson St. in Salinas and the other will be Oct. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Taylor Farms Family Health and Wellness Center at 850 Fifth St. in Gonzales.

Hernandez said he goes to get a free shot every year and appreciates the opportunity.

“Fortunately I’m still working but with COVID, a lot of people don’t have a job. Either way I save more than 100 bucks and I feel good about protecting my family and helping to protect others.”

Anyone who feels ill or has a fever is asked to avoid coming to get a shot. Masks are required. Shots are given out on a first-come, first-served basis and there are a limited number of shots.

More information can be obtained by calling the health promotion department at (831) 759-1890.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.