Get your flu shots now

Published 10:40 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

Medical experts recommend people begin getting their flu shots now. -- Tim Reeves photo

It may not seem like it, but it’s that time of the year once again. Time to get your flu shot.

“The earlier you get your flu shot the better,” said Leighton Lassiter, pharmacy manager of Walgreens on Highland Avenue. “It will cut down on people’s missed time from work and it will cut down on visits to the doctor’s office.”

Flu season peaks in January and February in Alabama, but cases begin as early as September and the season can last through April.

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To protect a person from becoming ill with influenza this season, every person 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine.

Vaccines this year will protect against H1N1 as well as two other influenza viruses, H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus.

The amount of people getting vaccines is still slow, about five people per day, Lassiter said.

Everyone should get the vaccine every year because each seasonal shot protects against the strains of the virus expected for the year.

“If you had H1N1 last year, you still need to get [the flu shot] this year so you can have protection against all three strains,” said Winkler Sims, director of immunization division of the state Department of Health.

Last year, about 1.3 million doses of the shot were administered, but about 4.5 million people live in Alabama, Sims said.

“Not everybody gets a flu shot and we need to change that,” Sims said. “Everybody needs to take advantage of getting the vaccine and have protection for going into the peak months. The best possible way to get protection is to be vaccinated.”

Flu shots contain an inactive virus, which will build the body’s immunity to the virus, preventing infection if the body is exposed to a live virus later.

Anyone with severe allergies to eggs should not get a flu shot because the virus is incubated in eggs and could cause a reaction.

Flu vaccines will be administered at Brown Drug Company on Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Valley Grande Pharmacy on Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., Walmart on Sept. 28-30 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Dallas County Health Department Monday-Wednesday at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Vaccines are available immediately at Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy Drug Store and Dallas Avenue Pharmacy during normal store hours.

Carter Drug Company and Pilcher-Mcbryde Drug Company will offer shots this year but do not have the vaccines yet.