Flu cases show up early in SoCal

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Flu season is upon us.

While the flu shot can have big benefits for people with diseases like diabetes and asthma, even healthy people can get the flu and spread the virus.

Flu season usually peaks much later in California, but already health care providers say quite a few people are testing positive for the virus.

Jeanette Sirkin, a nurse practitioner with the Minute Clinic at CVS in Burbank advises people to get in and get their flu shots.

"We're already seeing an uptick, and people are very miserable already, " said Sirkin.

Warren Christophel gets the flu shot annually since he frequently travels for work. "It's smart to get a flu shot especially being confined in a small space," said Christophel.

Sirkin said this year she recommends the shot that includes four different strains of the most common form of flu.

It's now being offered without preservatives, an option commonly reserved for pregnant women.

"So for all those folks who are concerned about preservatives and multi-dose vials, it's not an issue for us this year," said Sirkin.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends everybody over the age of six months get the shot, but it's especially important for people over the age of 65 because this population suffers more severe complications.

For this group, Sirkin recommends the higher dose flu vaccine.

"I believe it's four times as much of the antigen in it. It's the same flu vaccine, but it's a higher concentration," she said.

People over the age of 65 should also be up to date on pneumococcal vaccines.

The CDC recommends getting Prevnar at age 65 and Pneumovax a year later.

Sirkin said, "Those who are 65 and older, if they do get pneumonia, a good portion of them can end up hospitalized. Some can even die."

The chicken pox virus can reactivate later in life, but the shingles vaccine can protect you. "Shingles is a horribly painful disease," Sirkin said.

Check with your insurance company for coverage on the shingles shot. Both the flu and the pneumoccocal vaccines are covered by Medicare.
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