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With Flu Shot, Timing Is Everything

October 9, 2007, 5:35 PM by Jaine Andrews

With Flu Shot, Timing Is Everything
With fall leaves dropping off the trees already, cold and flu season can't be far behind. But we could still be months away from the peak of flu activity in the state. Which is why when it comes to your yearly flu shot, timing is everything. 

Head to the doctor's office or just drive around town and you're likely to see one of these: a sign promoting the chance to be among the first to get their flu shot this year. But is it too soon? 

Scientists aren't psychics, which is why it's impossible for anyone to predict just how bad this year's flu season could get. 

Lon Kightlinger, Ph.D with the South Dakota Department of Health explains, "It's a very unpredictable virus. And it's just too early to know if it's going to be a bad year or a good year for influenza. It's never a good year, but we just can't predict." 

There's also no predicting exactly when the bug will be its busiest. Kightlinger says, "In South Dakota, and nationally, it tends to peak in February. Last year it peaked in February. Nearly half of the years we've had February peaks. But three years ago, you may recall, it peaked in December." 

If this year's peak holds to the norm, getting a flu shot too early could limit your protection. Kightlinger says, "Coming soon you'll be in prime time to get your flu shot--end of October, November, early December are really good times to get your flu shot." 

What health officials also know about this year's flu is that, unlike past years, there should be plenty of flu shot to go around. 

Bonnie Jameson with the South Dakota Department of Health says, " For us in the Department of Health, 100,000 doses have arrived and over 40 percent of that has been shipped back out to private providers to use for the children in the state." 

And this year, state health officials are picking up the tab for any child getting vaccinated up to age 18. Jameson says, "The vaccine is free of charge, you may be charged an administrative fee from the clinic, but the vaccine itself is free. We want to make sure that children are protected." 

The annual KELOLAND TV flu shot clinic won't be held until the end of October—Tuesday, October 30 to be exact, at your local Lewis Drug store.

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