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October 2, 2012

OUR VIEW: Now is the time to get a flu shot

— Have you gotten your flu shot this year? If not, it’s time to roll up your sleeve and get it over with.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months old and older get a flu shot every year.

Some folks tend to wait, betting that the  flu season won’t really begin in earnest until January or later, but the fact is no one knows when flu season will start. It has been known to start as early as October.

And in light of the fact that it takes about two weeks after you get your shot for the vaccine’s protection to kick in, the clock is ticking.

For some folks, getting the vaccine is particularly important. That includes anyone at high risk of developing serious complications such as pneumonia. This would include women who are pregnant, people over the age of 65 and anyone with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease. It also includes anyone who lives with someone in any of those groups.

The Cass County Health Department has already wrapped up its adult flu shots for this season. It has administered more than 300, about half of those during a clinic on Monday.

If you still need a shot, though, you can get one through your family physician or through local pharmacies.

If you have a child in need of a shot, the health department might be able to help. The department offers shots to children who are on Medicaid and those who have no insurance or who have insurance that does not cover a flu shot.

Some folks might be thinking of skipping this year’s shot because last year’s flu season proved to be minor, but the experts say that’s a bad idea.

Flu seasons are unpredicatable, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The seasonal vaccine is updated each year to include influenza strains that are expected to be the main viruses. Among the viruses covered by this year's vaccine is H1N1, which caused the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years and is expected to be circulating again this flu season.

A case of the flu is no fun, and in some cases, it can even be deadly.

Get your shot and increase your chances of staying healthy this winter.

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