SALT LAKE CITY — The signs are out at the pharmacies and some doctors are saying the time is right for everyone to get their flu shots. It may seem early, but doctors say sooner is better than later this year.
That's why 82-year-old JoAnn Decker decided to pick up her prescriptions and get her flu shot this week at Intermountain Healthcare's Salt Lake Clinic.
"I'm old and I don't want to get sick," she said.
Decker said she has done this every year since she can remember and has never gotten the flu.
"I had a friend who didn't believe in them and I would say,' Oh, I think you should get one,'" she said.
Decker gets the high-dose flu vaccine, which doctors recommend for anyone over the age of 65.
Intermountain Healthcare Medical Director for Preventative Medicine, Dr. Tamara Sheffield said, "Just like everything else in our bodies, our immune system ... ages. And when it gets older, it just doesn't respond as well. It needs more of a boost to actually make it work better."
Due to a bad flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, the U.S. has actually adjusted this year's vaccine.
"The first time ever since 2009, when we had the pandemic strain ... we've tweaked it because we're seeing some genetic modifications in the population in the Southern Hemisphere," Sheffield said.
In fact, Australia has seen more than double the number of flu cases this season compared with 2016. Most of those have been in children between the ages of 5 and 9, as well as the elderly.
That's why doctors are urging Americans to get vaccinated now before flu season begins.
Dr. Sheffield said it's just part of the cycle.
"Some seasons are really bad and others are not. The great thing is that we do know is the more people who are vaccinated the more we can control the spread of influenza," she said.
Sheffield said when you see the sign that says the flu vaccine is available, that's the right time and right place.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and above to get the flu vaccine every season. It takes one to two weeks after receiving a flu shot to have full protection.
And like last year, the nasal flu mist is still not recommended.
You can find the flu vaccine at your doctor's office, local pharmacy, or your local health department. A lot of workplaces also have health care professionals bring it right to the work site.
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