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Health Team

Flu shots available early for coming season

Posted August 20, 2015

Many pharmacies are already offering the flu vaccine for the coming flu season.

Last year presented some surprises, both in the strains of flu that caused illness and in how early the season peaked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that positive tests for flu peaked in 2014 during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. The season typically spans from October through the end of May, but when it hits the hardest is always a guessing game.

"We can peak as early as November, as late as May," said Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease expert at UNC Hospitals. "Classically, most years we peak in this part of the country around February."

Data show the rate of deaths from the flu among children vary widely, from 37 deaths in 2011-12 to 171 the following season and back down to 11 in 2013-2014. Last winter, 145 children died from flu-related illness.

The winter of 2014-15 will also be remembered for a late-mutated strain of the virus which limited the effectiveness of available vaccine.

To find a flu shot anytime, search flu.gov.

Large pharmacy chains buy in bulk and tend to get the vaccine sooner than private practices. However, there are advantages to getting all immunizations from a primary care provider.

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