Doctors say the time has come to start thinking about the next flu season. Traditionally, the push for flu vaccines comes in late-September, but after 63 flu-related deaths in the last flu season, vaccines are already being shipped to doctors and pharmacies.
“It's perfectly safe and appropriate to go ahead and get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available in your doctor's office or local pharmacy,” said Oklahoma State Department of Health Epidemiologist, Becky Coffman.
Flu shots will be readily available at some pharmacies and doctors’ offices in the next couple of weeks and medical professionals hope the early deliveries will mean more people choosing to get a flu shot.
Coffman explains that not everyone will get a flu shot. Some people cannot safely receive the vaccine because of pre-existing medical conditions. The shot is also not safe for infants under six months old. For that reason, Coffman explains, it is important for healthy people to get vaccinated against the flu.
“When you take the flu vaccine, you're helping stop the spread so it helps protect you from catching the flu and then it protects you, protects others around you from catching the flu from you. The more people in a community that are vaccinated, the safer the whole community is.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that doctors and pharmacists start giving out flu shots as soon as they become available.
Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, who practices in Oklahoma City, tells News 9 that it takes two weeks for the flu shot to kick in. That means vaccine recipients are still susceptible to influenza during that period. She says people should get their vaccine before October, but adds the flu shot is often available through January.
Coffman says she wants to put one big rumor about the shot to rest once and for all.
“The strains of flu that are in the flu shot are inactivated, which means there's nothing live in there that can give you the flu.”
While doctors’ offices and pharmacies are starting to get the first doses of the vaccines, county health departments in Oklahoma will start giving out their doses in September.?