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Doctors Urge People to Get Prepared for Flu Season
By Jill Kasparie, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- This year's flu season will be here before we know it, whether we are ready or not. Organizations, pharmacies, and hospitals across Eastern Iowa are ready. They have already started to offer this year’s flu shot.
St. Luke's Dr. Clete Younger said the season typically begins in October, but Iowans have seen break outs as early as September, that's why doctors are distributing the vaccine right now.
Health experts said companies that produce the vaccine have started making them readily available much quicker. This year, Dr. Clete Younger noted the vaccines came in a couple weeks earlier than normal, but health experts said that early delivery is becoming a regular occurrence. “Ever since H1N1 a couple years ago, they’ve been starting to give it out in August and early September, so we started giving it at our clinic,” said St. Luke’s Doctor Melissa Kahler.
Across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC calculates that manufacturers have distributed 72.6 million doses across the nation so far this flu season. The organization recommends everyone six months and older should get the flu shot.
Dr. Younger and Dr. Kahler have been recommending vaccinations to all of their patients. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.
Doctors hear all of the excuses in the book as to why people don’t get their flu shots. The most common one is that patients claim they get sick right after they receive the vaccine.
"With the flu shot, itself, it is actually a killed virus so it doesn't even include the entire virus. So, it would be impossible for the vaccine to cause the flu. What happens more often is we get the flu shot in September, October, November, that's the time people get sick from things,” Dr. Younger said.
This year's vaccine protects against three influenza viruses and is different from last year's vaccine. "If there are new viruses in the vaccination, sometimes it can take up to a couple of weeks [to develop an immunity], which is why it's important to get the flu vaccine early because you want it to start working as soon as possible,” Dr. Younger said.
Doctors hope this year’s dose of the flu is relatively minor, like last year. "We had two years of vaccinating with the right flu strains in a row and that was so effective at suppressing the flu that we had a significant drop in the number of cases. It really proved to us that if you hit the vaccination right, you can make an enormous difference in the incidence of the disease,” Dr. Younger said.
Dr. Younger also said the mild winter helped keep the cases of the flu to a minimum.
Doctors know it seems early to get a flu shot, but they’re warning patients they need to be prepared for the entire season. “It should cover you until May, which is about the end of the flu season,” said St. Luke’s Doctor Melissa Kahler.
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