Planning for flu season starts now

Getting back into the swing of the school year includes protecting your family from viruses.

But even though cold and flu season may seem far away, now is the time to think about flu vaccines.

In fact, doctors say a handful of patients at the St. Augustine and Middleburg CareSpot have already been diagnosed with both A & B strains of influenza in the past week alone. Providers said it's not clear if these are a result of the last flu season or a sign that this season may be off to an early start. But they said now is the time to protect your family.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone, six-months or older, to get the flu shot before the end of next month. Children under the age of eight who have never received a flu vaccine need two doses. The agency has expanded its annual recommendation after two drug-makers lowered the age receiving the vaccine and the dosing level. 

According to Dr. Frank Esper, of Cleveland Clinic Children's, it's best to have children receive their flu vaccines as soon as they're available, to make sure their immune systems are ready to fight.

"The best time to get the flu vaccine is before flu spreads," he said. "It takes anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks for your immune system to ramp up and be protected after you get your vaccination." 

There are several misconceptions about the flu vaccine -- one of them being that you can get the flu from the vaccine.

Esper said this is a myth.

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