One flu shot, not two, this year

    The regular flu shot this year covers H1N1 and two other strains.

    We’re heading into flu season, and your doctor or pharmacy may be calling soon to remind you that it’s time to renew your vaccine.

    After last year’s atypical flu season, and the heightened interested in the pandemic H1N1 virus, public health officials say they’re expecting a return to normal.

    First, this year, there’s just one flu shot, not two. The vaccine wards off three flu strains — the so-called swine flu — as well two other seasonal viruses.

    Pharmaceutical companies began shipping vaccine in July, and some drug store chains are contacting customers now, but there’s some debate about the right time to get the vaccine. Michael Huff is Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

    Huff: We want to get the immunization into folks so they can build up resistance, but we don’t want the resistance to wane before the influenza season is over. So if you give it too early, then you find yourself more vulnerable February, March and April.

    Last year, lots of people got their flu shot free at mass immunization clinics organized by public health departments. Huff says this year contact your private health care provider to get the vaccine. It can costs about $25 and is typically covered by health insurance.

    Federal officials say there should be more than enough vaccine for anyone who wants it.

    Ashley Flower is a spokeswoman for Rite-Aid based in Camp Hill, Pa. The drugstore chain is urging customers to come in an get their flu shot.

    Flower: I can tell you that people are inquiring and getting their flu shot as we speak, we’ve been offering them for little over a week right now.

    Federal officials say there will be more than 160 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine available this season.

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