LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Doctors are urging the public that now is the time to get this year's flu shot. While 2015 was a mild flu season, 2014 brought a record number of hospitalizations.
This year though, doctors are saying they believe they have targeted the right strains of flu virus and that the vaccine should be effective. Flu season typically lasts between October and March, so getting the shot early is better than later.
Most people know the signs of the flu; fever, fatigue, and just feeling downright terrible. But at the onset of the flu you may feel no difference at all.
"Sometimes it's hard to know and sometimes people can spread the flu a day or two before they have symptoms," said Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health.
Dillaha said taking precautionary measures benefits not only yourself but others around you too. This is especially true for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with underlying medical conditions.
"We depend on the people around them to be vaccinated to help protect them from getting the flu," Dillaha said.
One simple way that doctors continue to say you can prevent the flu is by washing your hands. Another way is to sneeze or cough into the pit of your elbow.
Dr. Michelle Honeycutt with the Arkansas Children's Hospital said the vaccine is far and away the single, most effective way to protect yourself from getting sick. The flu mist, however, will not be effective and doctors warn against using it.
"The CDC went back and looked at about 3 years' worth of data with the flu mist," Honeycutt said. "It just didn't have the same effectiveness as the vaccine."
She said getting the shot now is the smartest route because it's hard to predict what the flu season will bring along. Last year, the hospital reported 147 cases but the year before they reported over 700 cases.
The Arkansas Department of Health said every county in the state will offer various flu vaccination clinics. You can look at the list here.