RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It may seem a little early to start talking about flu season, but it's not. With both seasonal flu and swine flu out there, local health officials say you should act now to protect yourself.
Places like Walgreen's on Nuckols Road are on the front lines of the fight against the flu. And this year, their main weapon came early- the seasonal flu vaccine.
"We got it in earlier this past week, and so now we want to make it available to the public as soon as possible," said Celeste Hearn, Walgreen's pharmacist.
The vaccine usually doesn't arrive until October. But with the H1N1 or "swine" flu still circulating, health officials want people to get the shots for seasonal flu now. The H1N1 vaccine won't be available until later in the season.
"Because this new flu came late in the spring, we were already making the seasonal vaccine for this year," said Dr. Karen Remley, State Health Commissioner.
As a result, you'll have to get the two vaccines separately. As in past years, vulnerable populations are strongly encouraged to get this year's seasonal shot- this includes children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
"If there's anything we know about the flu, it's that it's unpredictable. So we want to make sure people are prepared and covered," said Remley.
Virginia has been taking steps to prepare for flu season statewide- much of the effort has focused on schools.
"Our Department of Education and all our local school districts are working closely with our public health physicians and local health departments, who are really the backbone of this response," said Remley.
We're on your side with a good resource for those wanting more information about the different flu strains and vaccines. This federal website can help answer many of your questions.