• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Flu season arrives early this year; flu shots ready

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
This winter health officials say the flu appears to be hitting earlier and harder. But there is a silver lining. This year, the flu vaccine could be our best protection.

Flu season has arrived early this year.

"This is the earliest in about a decade," said Dr. Townson Tsai, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles.

Infectious disease experts at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles say the flu strain causing the most problem is the H3N2 bug.

"That one has been associated in the past with more illness in the elderly and sickness, and so this could be a harder year," said Tsai.

But the good news is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports of all the strains tracked and recorded, 90 percent appear to be a match for the current flu vaccine.

While this year's vaccine is a great match for the strains going around, experts remind us that the flu vaccine gives us a protective effect. You'll have milder symptoms or you may not get sick at all, but you still have to use common sense.

"You should still wash your hands well, keep your hands away from your face. If you are ill, don't go to work. Cover your cough," said Tsai.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. Dr. Tsai says it doesn't become fully protective until about two weeks after you get it, so you shouldn't delay. Yet many people remain hesitant. Dr. Tsai says he spends a lot of time convincing people you can't get sick from a flu shot.

"There is no live component. You cannot get sick from the vaccine. If you get sick, it's just coincidental, I always tell people," said Tsai.


Load Comments