POSTED: Monday, September 21, 2009 - 6:24pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:04pm
TYLER-U.S. officials are urging people to get the seasonal flu shot out of the way before the swine flu shots come in next month. And that is exactly what many local pharmacies are seeing.
This fall, many Americans will need to line up for at least two separate flu vaccines. Local pharmacists we spoke to say both are equally important this year.
"This year there are two flu related threats, the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus," Kathleen Sebelius with the Department of Health and Human Services said in a recent news conference.
The H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine won't be available until October. It was initially only for high-risk groups. But while swine flu is the most talked about flu strain, doctors are warning it could be risky, and in some cases even deadly, to ignore the traditional seasonal flu.
Local pharmacist Jeffrey Abeldt tells us people are coming into Brickstreet Pharmacy in Tyler and getting their shots a lot earlier this year.
"Usually we start flu shots in the middle of October," Abeldt said. "This year we've seen people come in in August wanting to get their flu shot."
Though he says its better to be pro-active, getting the seasonal flu shot too early in the season could cause yet another problem.
"The problem with getting it early is that it runs out," he said. "Its only good for about four months or so and typically if you get it mid to late October it will last thru the flu season."
So if you get your shot too early, you could be at risk at the tail end of the flu season.
But early or not, doctors say you should get it. Mr. Abeldt said if you're considered high-risk you should get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. If not he recommends waiting a few more weeks.
Doctors say getting vaccinated is the most important step in preventing the flu.
Local pharmacists say there should be enough doses to go around, but they are going fast. One Longview pharmacist told us he started out with 8,000 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine. He's now down to 5,000.