TYLER (KYTX) - If you haven't had your flu shot, it's time to pay attention. This year's flu season is peaking earlier and hitting harder than it has in almost ten years.
The flu season usually peaks in February, but this year, it's already arrived, and Texas is one of the states it's hitting hardest.
That's why it's important to get the flu shot as soon as possible, especially because once you do, it takes a whole two weeks for the antibiotics to start working.
"It's like nothing you want to experience! I didn't even get hospitalized. I was just sick those full 7 days," says Northeast Texas Public Health District Immunization Director, Sylvia Warren. She had the flu years ago.
"And ever since that day, I have been getting my flu vaccine!" she says.
Rachael Beam takes her health seriously too. She's one of 112 million Americans who have already been vaccinated.
"As soon as I find out I can get it I get it as soon as possible because I tend to get sick easier and I definitely don't want to get the flu," Beam said.
The good news for people like Beam is, this year's vaccine is a perfect match for the H3N2 virus, which is the most predominant this year.
Every year the Center for Disease Control studies flu cases and tries to come up with an even stronger vaccine for the next year, eliminating prevalent strains. This year, they nailed it.
"That's what's great about it," Warren says. "The CDC does a perfect job of matching as best they can and right now they've got a good match on what's circulating right now."
She says even though the flu is hitting earlier, lots of people came in earlier than usual for their vaccines.
"As a matter of fact when we first got our flu vaccine in August, that very first day we started giving flu vaccines and we've been steadily giving it ever since," she said.
That's something Beam is glad to hear.
"Because people don't always realize how serious this is," she said. Warren reminds the public the flu can get serious enough to lead to other potentially fatal illnesses, like pneumonia.
Each year there are about 200 thousand people hospitalized for the flu. Make sure you're not one of them this year - especially if you have kids, you're elderly, or you have previous medical conditions. That means you're more at risk.
The CDC says about 123 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed to health care providers, so there's more than enough to go around. About 112 million people have already been vaccinated.
You can get your flu shot or nasal mist at NET Health, located at 815 N. Broadway Ave. in Tyler. You can also head to your local pharmacy (like CVS or Walgreens) or call your doctor's office to see if vaccines are offered there.