Doctors Encourage Early Flu Vaccinations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Though flu season is still months away, stores around northeast Florida have been advertising flu shots for weeks.

Doctors are encouraging people to get vaccinated early this year.

"There are indications that it might hit early this year, and so you never can get your flu shot too early," said Dr. Gary Roberts, of Roberts South Bank Pharmacy.

Catherine Wyllie said she got her flu shot six weeks ago.

"I work in an assisted living home, and I just wanted to make sure I was safe and I didn't get the flu, and hopefully other people didn't transfer it around," Wyllie said.

Matthew Howell is under the weather, but once he feels better, that's the first thing he's going to do, he said.

"I'm asthmatic, and if I don't get the flu shot, I tend to get sick in the spring and in the fall, so normally I get two a year," Howell said.

Roberts said it's important to get vaccinated every year.

"There's different strains of flu every year," he said. "The flu bugs mutate every year, so this year's vaccine is built for what they think the mutations will be this year. Next year, there may be different mutations, so therefore we have to have a different vaccine."

Roberts said people can get sick from the flu shot, but most people don't.

"Basically, what you're doing is getting a small dose of the virus so you can build your immunity to it," he said.

The vaccine costs between $10 and $20 and includes the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines.

For more information on seasonal influenza and vaccinations, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.