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Doctors: It's time to get a flu shot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Flu season is here, and doctors are urging anyone 6 months and older to be vaccinated for the upcoming flu season.

In northeast Florida, flu season is typically in the winter months, but starts as early as the beginning of October and can last into the spring months.

Memorial Hospital is encouraging everyone to go ahead and get flu shots as soon as possible.

Doctors say it's important to get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available, and it now is. Memorial Hospital said it's already seen some cases of influenza, and it's never too early to get a flu shot.

"In general, we recommend the flu shot for almost everyone, particularly vulnerable adults, the elderly or in bad health, have predisposing conditions like lung or heart disease," Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Aaron West said.

West said people should make getting the flu shot a priority. Not only are the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions more vulnerable to the flu, but also children, who can begin getting the influenza vaccination as early as 6 months old.

Last year, about 100 children died from the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those 100, nearly half had no underlying medical conditions, and more than 90 percent of children treated for influenza in intensive care units weren't vaccinated for flu last year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wants parents of children ages 2 to 8 to consider getting their kids the nasal spray vaccine instead of the flu shot, a mist that does not have the pain of a needle.

West said middle-aged adults were hit the hardest last year, and said it is not true that someone will get the flu after getting a flu shot.

"Absolutely false. Sometimes you may feel a little bit run down for a day, but it's sure better than the five or six days of high fever, not being able to breathe, not being able to get out of bed because you hurt so badly, because every muscle in your body is hurting," West said.

Flu shots change from year to year based on the strain doctors believe will be most prevalent that year, but doctors say just because the vaccine hasn't changed doesn't mean that you should not get your shot every year.