Health Officials Prepared For Flu Season

The 2015-2016 flu season is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to get your flu shot. 
Health officials in Wichita County and across the nation are getting prepared, but how they do so, is different than in recent years. 
Lou Kreidler, the Director at the Wichita Falls – Wichita County Public Health District explained it all started to change when the H1N1 virus came out in 2009. Prior to the strain, officials thought the vaccine only provided immunity in the first three months after getting it.  This is why the flu vaccine wasn’t offered until late October early November.
“After the H1N1 hit, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) came out with a recommendation that as soon as the flu vaccine is available, that people begin getting vaccinated,” Kreidler said.
This is why many clinics and pharmacies, such as Trott’s Call Field Drug, are already offering the flu vaccine.  Trott’s started doing flu shots on September 1st, 2015.
“Our flu season used to start more right after the first of the year, but the last few years, it’s started earlier,” Chuck Weaver, the Pharmacist and Store Manager said, “So, if it starts in October, then September is a good time to get it.”
Last year the Wichita Falls – Wichita County Public Health District had problems with getting the adult vaccines.  Shipping delays caused them to get them by the end of October.  However, this year that won’t be a problem.  Kreidler said they expect to get their shipment within two weeks.
Before getting the vaccine, realize there are options.  The CDC reports this year there will be a three strain and a four strain vaccine available.  A nasal spray vaccine will also be offered this year, which will cover four strains.  Last year it only covered three strains.  There is also a vaccine specifically geared for people 65 and older.
“If you have a child who’s never been vaccinated before, then they will need to receive two doses this year,” Kreidler said.
Those are done four weeks apart.  Still, no matter what option you go with, getting vaccinated is key. 
“It’s never too early to protect yourself,” she said.
Another change with the vaccine is how long you are protected from the flu.  Weaver explained it used to only protect you for that specific season.  Even then, there was no guarantee.  Now, the flu vaccine will cover you for a whole year, which will be just in time for your next shot.
With the flu season getting closer, the Wichita Falls – Wichita County Public Health District will be holding a mass vaccination clinic, which is new this year.  It is scheduled for October 10th, but officials are still working out all of the details.
For more information on the 2015-2016, check out the CDC website.
Alexandra McClung, Newschannel 6