Flu season begins, vaccines now available



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Posted on October 4, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 4 at 5:40 PM

AUSTIN -- It's a prediction that's hard to nail down. While the peak of the flu season typically hits in January or February, the virus can show up as early as October and stretch on through May, so the shots are out.

"It's never too early to get a flu shot," said Coleen Christian with Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services.

Manufacturers are bracing for a big demand -- an estimated 139 million doses of the flu vaccine this season.

Who needs it? The Center for Disease Control recommends everyone six months old and up.

"If you get it now, that will protect you through the flu season," said Christian.

During the last flu season, the CDC says more than 100 children died from the virus, and of those deaths, 90 percent didn't get the vaccine.

While doctors recommend everyone get a vaccine, the CDC ultimately suggests a three-part prevention plan. The first part of the plan is getting a vaccine -- especially young children, the elderly and those with immune system problems. Second are everyday actions like covering your nose and mouth, washing your hands, staying home when you're sick and avoiding those who are sick. Third is taking the medicine your doctor prescribes. Studies show those medicines work best if you take them within two days of getting sick.

This year there are several different versions of the flu vaccine including a high-dose version and another that protects against four different flu viruses.

To find a health care provider offering the flu vaccine, go here.

Austin is also hosting several flu vaccination clinics. Go here for more information.

Go here for more information about the flu virus.

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