Health Officials Recommend Getting Flu Shots Early - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Health Officials Recommend Getting Flu Shots Early

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Influenza season is right around the corner and health officials want to stress to everyone to get vaccinated.

"There's no reason to wait to get your flu shot, now is the time," said Matt Kelley, Gallatin County Health Department.

A study done by Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Center for Disease and Control found that getting the flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalizations by 71% among adults in the 2011-2012 flu season.

Matt Kelley with the Gallatin County Health Department said to make sure this number continues to decrease peoples need to get their flu shot as soon as possible.

"It's the best that we have to protect ourselves, our families and our community," said Kelley. "Each year in this country we see between 10,000-50,000 people die from influenza related illness. There are between 100,000 and 200,000 people who are hospitalized due to influenza related illnesses."

Last year, 749 influenza were cases reported in Gallatin County. Those are only cases of people who went to see their health provider. Kelley said many more were not reported.

"The biggest impact tends to be the elderly, people who are over the age of 65," said Kelley.

This year, new flu vaccine is available, quadrivalent that protects against four strands of the flu instead of only three strands.

"It protects against two strands of influenza A and one strand of influenza B. This year, the 4 strand flu vaccine protects against two strands of influenza A and two strands of influenza B," said Kelley.

Kelley said there are three things you can do to avoid getting the flu.

"People need to get vaccinated, make sure they are washing their hands thoroughly and when people get sick and they think they have influenza, they see their health care provider," said Kelley.

Kelley said there is no way to know whether or not it will be a busy flu season until the first case is reported.

The Gallatin County Health Department will be giving flu shots at the Bozeman Senior Center this Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

They also offer walk-in flu immunization clinics on Mondays from 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Tuesdays 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at the Gallatin County Health Department located 215 W. Mendenhall.

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