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Flu season begins

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TYLER (KYTX) - Believe it or not, flu season is here, and many East Texas clinics already have shots available.

Doctors say it's hard to predict when flu season will peak, so it's better to get your shot out of the way early to be on the safe side.

The new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is children ages six months and older get a flu shot every year as soon as it's available.

Sylvia Warren says that time is now. She's immunization director for the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

"Now that we've got the back-to-school rush over, it's time for flu season. So, it's time for parents to start thinking about getting their children vaccinated with the influenza vaccine, as well as themselves."

Ca'Mel Davis says all four of her children will be getting vaccinated against the flu this year.

"The more children who get it, the less likely it is to spread infectious diseases."

Warren says, unfortunately, most people do not plan ahead for their flu shots.

"They want to wait because, you know, that's too early to get it because it's going to hit later, but you know, the flu is unpredictable. So, we don't know when it's going to hit, so we want to be prepared for when it does."

People who get their flu shots earlier in the season don't have to worry about them wearing off quicker. In fact, Warren says people who get vaccinated in September will be protected all the way through the end of flu season without needing a booster shot. Warren says that could be as late as May or June.

"Just go ahead and get them vaccinated and you know, catch it early." says Davis. "And, hopefully prevent the disease."

The CDC reports less than half of all Americans receive a flu shot each year despite the benefits.

People most at risk of getting the flu virus are children younger than two, seniors and those with chronic health conditions.

Although you always want to wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze, doctors say the shot is really your best form of defense against the virus. According to the CDC, seasonal flu vaccines reduce the risk of sickness by about 60%.

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