It's that time of year again, with signs up at area drug stores urging you to get a flu shot. With flu season right around the corner, do you really need to get vaccinated or are there other options to steering clear of the flu?
Roll up your sleeve, stick out your arm, it's flu shot time. Pamela James is one of those that is taking the plunge and getting vaccinated.
"I get a flu shot every year because my doctor says I need it," she said. "It doesn't bother me, it doesn't hurt, it's not going to make you get the flu, so what's the difference, you might as well get the shot."
Whether its doctor's orders or your mom's, no matter your age, health officials urge you to get vaccinated before the flu season starts.
"It will reduce your chance of getting flu by about 75-percent," Dr. William Lockwood said.
Scared of needles? Don't worry. This year you have options to get vaccinated.
"We are trying to lower those barriers that keep people from getting vaccinated," Mark Springer with the Spokane Regional Health District said.
First there is the standard flu shot. Either the Trivalent -- that protects against three flu viruses -- or the new Quadrivalent vaccine, that protects against four, the high dose vaccine for seniors is almost 25-percent more effective than the regular flu shot and there's a separate flu shot for children.
For those fearful of needles, try the flu mist. It's available for anyone between the ages of two through 49.
Flu season in the Inland Northwest typically peaks in January and February.
So what about the urban legend that after you get the shot you end up sick?
"What I respond to people who mention that is there is a lot of respiratory pathogens and bacteria out there that can cause respiratory symptoms, you can get pertussis and the common cold," Springer said.
In fact, influenza represents only one third of flu-like illnesses.
After you get the flu shot, it takes two weeks to be fully protected.
You can vaccinated at most pharmacies and clinics around the area and it's typically covered by most insurance plans.
Besides the shot, there are other things people can do to avoid getting sick. Simple things like washing your hands, especially before eating, and avoid touching your face, nose or eyes.
Also, if you're sick, stay home and don't go to work, where you increase the odds of spreading the flu.