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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's not too late to get your flu shot.

Officials with theArkansas Department of Health are still urging residents to get vaccinated.Influenza cases in the Natural State are listed as "widespread."

Vaccinations this season have already topped 235,000. Health officials stated that if you receive the current vaccination, you are 75 to 80 percent more protected than those without the vaccine.

Dr. Gary Wheeler is the Branch Chief of Infectious Disease at the Arkansas Department of Health.

"Flu can kill you. It can put you in the I-C-U. We feel that's a risk that most people, if they thought about it, wouldn't want to take," Wheeler said.

But does the current vaccine cover all strains of influenza?

"We know there are rare episodes of strains of disease that are not covered in the vaccine. But the vast majority of cases that we're seeing out there belong the influenza that is in the influenza vaccine," Dr. Wheeler added.

Here's how it works each year:

The CDC determines which three strains of flu are most likely to hit during the flu season.

Manufacturers then produce a vaccine covering those.

It contains three strains. two are type A, and one is Type B.

"Based on the information we have from the CDC, 99 percent of the A-strains match the vaccine," Dr. Wheeler said.

At Oak Grove Pharmacy in North Little Rock, between 5and 10 people a day still come in for their flu shots. It's as easy as walking in the door, filling out a form submitting it to your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and rolling up your sleeve.

But it's been a busy year for Terry Perkins with Oak Grove Pharmacy.

He typically gets his flu shot much earlier.

"This year I'm late. Usually I recommend getting your flu shot at the beginning of November," Perkins said.

In addition to the shot, there are preventive measures. The little things that can make a big difference.

"Instead of a hand shake, how about a fist pump," Dr. Wheeler said.

"And the best way to prevent the flu too is get your flu shot," Perkins added.

Wheeler said the amount of documented flu cases is small compared to the actual cases out there because they are not all reported.

The Health Department expects to see flu activity in Arkansas for at least 2 to four more weeks, if not longer.

Twitter: @BuhrmanM

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