According to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, Lexington had 343 confirmed cases of the flu last season and gave more than 3,300 flu vaccinations last season.
Vaccines for the 2013-2014 flu season are available with more options to keep people healthy.
“It is definitely not too early get the flu vaccine, the earlier the better,” said Chris Palutis, pharmacist and owner of C & C Pharmacy who says they’ve already had many customers get their flu shots.
It takes about two weeks from the time the flu vaccine is given for it to start protecting against the flu.
“Thousands of people die of the flu every single year and so taking that risk is not worth it, especially with the safety associated with these vaccines now," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, emergency physician at MESA Medical Group.
Flu season usually peaks in January and February but the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department says its seen cases in October and flu shots and mists are already available for this season.
The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine which contains a killed virus. This shot is approved for people older than six months of age including people with chronic medical conditions. There is a high dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older. Doctors recommend a booster flu shot for children after their first flu shot.
The nasal-spray, or mist, is made with a live attenuated, weakened flu virus. It is available for healthy people ages two to 49 years old.
This year there are trivalent vaccines which protect against three strains of virus the CDC believes will be the most common during the upcoming season and quadrivalent vaccines, which protect against four strains.
“Since its unknown which strains are going to be prevalent the more strains you can be protected against, obviously the better,” said Palutis.
As more strains are covered this year, so are more people.
“One of the things that ruled people out was an allergy to eggs and now there's a version out that doesn't use egg so that population is pulled back in,” said Dr. Stanton.
Neither the shot nor the spray will give people the flu. Dr. Stanton says if people develop flu-like systems after getting the shot, they were exposed to the virus before the vaccine was able to take effect. He says even if someone gets a strain that isn’t covered in the vaccine, it will likely be a less severe case.
The HealthMap Vaccine Finder helps to find a flu shot location and lists the type of vaccines available at each place.
It’s too early to predict how the 2013-2014 flu season will be but doctors and health officials recommend getting vaccinated early.