Flu Season Begins In October; Clinics Beginning To Vaccinate

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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - Kids are back in school, which typically means the flu virus begins its rounds. Doctors and pharmacists are starting to receive the vaccinations, and are giving them to any person over the age of six months.

"The earlier the better, because of the fact that it is an airborne water-droplet respiratory [virus], and that is how it spreads," Nurse practitioner Kip Davis said.

Davis works for Ozark Urgent Care in Bentonville, and said the peak months for influenza are October through April. Davis said the whole family should be vaccinated at the same time, so one person doesn't pass it to another.

He said the mist contains a weakened live virus, and is most effective in people who have healthy immune systems. The shot is better for those who are pregnant or have compromised immune systems because it contains a dead virus.

Davis said getting a vaccination doesn't mean you're 100% in the clear.

"You can still get the flu even having the immunization," Davis said.

He said if someone has been vaccinated and contracts the virus, the symptoms are typically much less severe. He said the vaccination given to health providers this year covers two strands of influenza A, and two strands of influenza B.  Davis said preventative care is priceless.

The cost of a flu shot or mist can vary depending on if an individual's insurance covers it, but health providers said it's typically between 20 and 40 dollars. Most clinics, hospitals and pharmacies are waiting on the first shipment of vaccinations.

"If you go to a pharmacy and they say 'I don't have it in yet' it's probably just within a couple of weeks that they'll be flooding the market," Pharmacist Keith Larkin said.

Health providers said the symptoms to watch out for include a cough, fatigue, fever and nausea. Davis said if a person thinks they have the flu, they should start treatment within 24-48 hours.

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