BOISE -- While summer ended just a few days ago, Idaho doctors and nurses are already preparing to face the flu.
That's because flu season usually starts in October, according to health experts. So if you plan on getting the popular flu vaccine, don't wait.
"The earlier you get it, the more protection you're going to have," said Central District Health Department PIO Dave Fotsch.
CHANGES TO THE VACCINE
While last year's vaccines protected against three strains of the flu, scientists have now created what's called a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against four strains of the flu.
Fotsch says the Central District Health Department (CDHC) has it now. Children from six months to 18-years-old can get the flu vaccine there. Call 208-327-7450 for more information. Vaccines for adults over 18 are not available at the CDHD offices.
Also new this year, a variation of the vaccine for people with a common allergy to chicken eggs.
At the CDHC, patients can choose between a shot or a spray. The mist contains live flu viruses, but they have been weakened. That's why sometimes people feel sick after using it.
It takes about two weeks to build up antibodies to help protect you, so Fotsch recommends getting the shot as soon as possible, especially people in vulnerable groups.
"People with chronic medical conditions like asthma or diabetes," said Fotsch.
Health experts say flu season peaks in January and winds down in May. Even if you don't get the vaccine, they recommend practicing healthy habits now to try and keep the flu from spreading.v
"Washing your hands frequently, avoiding people who are sick and if you are sick, stay home," added Fotsch.