Is it too early to get a flu vaccination?

By Amanda Hanson  - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Before your kids head off to school you try to prepare them. You buy them supplies and get them vaccinated against disease. This year, one shot was available early.

This year's flu shot is a package deal providing protection against H1N1, as well as two other common flu strains. But, is it too early to get the shot?

"Get vaccinated now. Get vaccinated soon. Don't wait until October. You know last year we were in the middle of it in October," says Doctor Shane Speights.

There were limited supplies of flu vaccine during last year's swine flu outbreak. This year, shipments came early, and drug stores are already administering the vaccine. But many are wonder: "is early better and will they be covered when the season peaks?"

"You'll be covered through the flu season and likely into the next year," says Speights. He says the sooner you're vaccinated the quicker you're protected. "It's going to take about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect in your body to be able to fully protect you."

The CDC is urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated. "There have already been reported cases in the state of Arkansas, and that's been the H3 strand of influenza. Now there's no way to tell if whether that will be the circulating strand this year. We just know we've already had documented cases," says Speights.

After the severity of the H1N1 pandemic last year, what are doctor expecting this year? "No one really knows what it's going to be like this year. We know that the H1N1 did give trouble to specific populations last year, and it's important for all those populations to get vaccinated," Speights explains. This includes children, the elderly and pregnant women.

Both the shot and nasal spray are available, but Speights says studies from last year have shown the nasal spray is more effective. "Both of them are greater than 90 percent effective, but the nasal spray did seem to provide a little more efficacy, a little more protection, and did seem to last a little bit longer."

The nasal spray is only recommended for individuals between the ages of two and forty-nine. Also new this year, is a special high-dose version for those 65 and older. The CDC is predicting a record supply available for the flu vaccine. For more information you can go to the CDC website

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