Palm Desert, Calif. - The new flu vaccine is out, and while flu season doesn't typically hit hardest until around the new year, if you plan on getting a flu shot, now is the time. Doctors offices, drug stores, and pharmacies are fully stocked with flu shots. Once the flu starts going around, supplies go down.
"Sometimes we run out of flu shots later in the season," Clinical Compounding Pharmacist, Steve Pomerance, said. "Last year we had some problems getting into December and early January. There was none available. So that would be critical."
Linda Arteaga is always among the first to get a flu shot each year.
"There's not going to be a shortage of it, if you get it early," Arteaga said.
While Arteaga says she's never caught the flu, Jack Rogers says the last time he did get the flu, was the last time he took the flu shot.
"I have not had the flu in 20 years," Rogers said. "Since the last time I had a flu shot."
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot. It's the first and most important step in protecting against a very serious virus.
Pomerance says it takes about six weeks for the shot to fully kick in, and that it works.
"It's 80 to 85 percent effective for a normal healthy individual," Pomerance said.
Manufacturers project they'll make between 135 to 139 million doses of flu vaccine in the United States this flu season. Around 30 million of the doses will be a four-strain flu vaccine. The rest are made to prevent the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness.
"We recommend three strains is just as good as the four strains," Pomerance said. "It'll have the same effect."
Most health insurance plans fully cover the cost of a flu shot. The cash price at most drug stores and pharmacies is around 30 dollars.