It isn't too soon to get a flu shot.
And if you're older than 6 months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get one.
It's not fall yet, but the vaccine is already available at local Walgreens and Dillons pharmacies, said J'Vonnah Maryman, of the Sedgwick County Health Department. Target is also advertising flu shots.
"Where and when you choose to be vaccinated is up to you," Maryman said. "If people are offering it now, it's OK to get vaccinated now.
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The shot "provides protection for the duration of the flu season," she said.
To handle the anticipated demand for the seasonal flu vaccine, 160 million doses are being produced, according to the CDC. That's about 40 percent more than the 114 million seasonal shots last year.
Sedgwick County has ordered 8,380 doses for this year, according to county spokesman Bryan Holmgren.
The county plans to provide vaccinations to senior citizens starting in early to mid-September before moving on to businesses in October and November.
It plans to have a "drive-through" clinic on Oct. 9 and will begin offering vaccinations at its West Central Clinic, 2716 W. Central, on Oct. 12.
The flu season in Kansas doesn't typically peak until February or March, Maryman said, but concerns that the vaccine will lose its potency if you get it now are unfounded.
"You only need one shot," she said.
People who get the vaccine now will "still have protection" through the end of flu season, she said.
Most people have typically waited until October or November to get their flu shots, Maryman said, in part because that was when the vaccines became widely available.
But it's not necessary to wait, she said.
This year's flu shot has vaccines against three strains of the flu: H1N1, A Perth and B Brisbane.
A Perth, otherwise known as H3N2, was widespread in 2009, and B Brisbane was common in 2008.
Studies have shown that when an H3N2 strain predominates, the number of flu deaths typically is about 2.7 times higher than in years when an H1N1 strain predominates.
Researchers are not sure why that is, but it occurs at least in part because the H3N2 virus mutates more rapidly.
The World Health Organization declared the H1N1 pandemic over earlier this month.
But pharmacists think memories of last winter's outbreak will prompt a surge in the number of people who get flu shots this season.
This is the first year that all states are permitting properly trained pharmacists to give shots.
The rules vary state by state. In Kansas, pharmacists are limited to vaccinating patients 9 years or older.
Robert Elfinger, spokesman for Walgreens, said the company began offering vaccinations Sept. 1 last year. This year, it got its supply earlier.
"So we just decided to make it available when we got it and we wanted it to coincide with back-to-school shopping," Elfinger said.
The vaccine is available at its stores nationwide, including Wichita.
It comes in two forms — a shot or a nasal mist.
The Wichita Clinic has the mist available, according to Jacque Stearns, pharmacy manager for the clinic. The injection vaccine is expected to arrive within a couple weeks.
The CDC encourages everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot.
Officials say it's especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
* Pregnant women
* Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2
* People 50 and older
* People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
* People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
* People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu including health care workers, household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than six months.