SPOKANE, Wash. - There may still be a month left of summer, but there's something that should be on everyone's mind, and it's not the beginning of school. It's time to start gearing up for flu season.
The flu is lurking, even though influenza activity is low right now in the U.S. Flu outbreaks usually begin as early as October. That's why public health officials are urging everyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot beginning in early September.
The Centers for Disease Control says the earlier you get inoculated the better, because the flu shot will cover you throughout the flu season.
Flu season traditionally peaks in January and February, but many times it can stretch into the month of May.
According to the CDC, for this flu season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 153 to 158 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.
In fact, at least two major manufacturers have said they've already begun to ship their supply. So, you should be seeing available flu shots in doctor's offices, pharmacies and even grocery stores within the next few weeks.
In addition to getting vaccinated, the CDC says people can take everyday preventative steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to stop the spread of germs.
If you're sick with the flu, you should also stay home from work or school so you don't spread it to others.
Children younger than six months are at a higher risk for serious flu complications, but are too young for the flu vaccine, so taking precautionary steps around infants is especially important.
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