Getting a flu shot stings like a bee, but just for about three seconds, said Kaden Nixon, 11, of Bettendorf.

Kaden was one of about 100 children who received the immunizations at Grant Wood Elementary School, Bettendorf,  on Tuesday to kick off the Genesis Flu-Free Quad-Cities Campaign.

This year is the 11th year of the campaign, and organizers hope to reach 10,000 children in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Nurses from the Genesis Visiting Nurse Association will visit 90 schools, beginning this week, to administer the program.

Elementary schoolchildren are "very effective carriers of seasonal flu," said Michele Cullen, community health manager at Genesis Health System.

"Each student who rolls up their sleeve for flu protection may prevent a baby sibling, grandparents or someone with a chronic illness who they are around, from getting the flu," she said.

Actually getting the shot felt "kind of weird" to Alexis Radcliff, 10, of Bettendorf. The Grant Wood fifth-grader, however, said the shot also felt good, because she knows it will protect her from getting sick.

It is estimated that each person who is vaccinated against seasonal influenza helps protect up to five others from getting the flu.

The flu season in this area typically begins in October and peaks between December and March. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness. 

Influenza, or seasonal flu, and its complications, is a top 10 cause of death in the United States. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Atlanta, influenza and pneumonia killed 57,062 Americans in 2016.

Everyone in the United States older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against flu, Cullen said. The only exceptions are those with a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccination.

In the first 10 years of Flu-Free Quad-Cities, 73,708 elementary school students received free flu vaccinations. The shots are available with parental consent.

The Flu-Free project is funded by the Genesis Health Services Foundation and involves fundraising activities all year long, including sports team jersey auctions, amusement rides at Quad-Cities River Bandits games in Davenport and individual and corporate donations.