Greensboro - Local health departments already are urging anyone older than six months to get vaccinated against the flu. Triad pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, currently are offering the flu vaccine, and the Guilford County Department of Public Health said it expects to carry the vaccines within the next few weeks.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the this year's flu outbreaks could begin as soon as October.
This year, there are two new options for flu vaccines--one for adults who are allergic to eggs and one that protects against four strains of the flu virus instead of the usual three. News 2 asked the Guilford County Department of Public Health's medical director, Dr. Ward Robinson, M.D., which vaccine is best to get.
He explained, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends none of the vaccines over another, meaning that it's more important to get vaccinated than necessary to choose. But, when the vaccine becomes available, I'm getting the quadrivalent--the four-strain vaccine. It only makes sense. I mean if you can protect yourself against four strains of the virus versus the three--go for the four."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging all children older than six months to get the shot as soon as it becomes available. According to the CDC, last year, a large number of flu cases came five weeks sooner than average. Doctors have said last year--the flu vaccine reduced the overall risk of infection about 60%. But, the CDC says the reality is that only 43% of all Americans get the flu shots.
Though the Guilford County Dept. of Public Health does not yet have the vaccine, the medical director said he urges people to go ahead and get it elsewhere, if it is available.
"We may not have our supply in yet, but it's available in the community. There is no difference between the vaccine that we get in the health department and the vaccines that are out in the community. And we really don't feel that we're in competition with anyone. We encourage everyone to, as soon as it's convenient to them. And the stuff that they're giving at the pharmacies is equally as safe and potent as anything we would administer here."
During the average flu season, the CDC estimates about 36,000 Americans will die of flu-related complications. Last year, 160 children died from the flu.
WFMY News 2