LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Flu season has arrived in Central Arkansas, and medical professionals are continuing to urge everyone to get vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you get your flu shot in September or October.
"We never know when influenza is going to start circulating," said Craig Gilliam, Director of Infection Prevention at Arkansas Children's Hospital. He said you can still get the flu virus even after you've been vaccinated if you had previously been exposed to the virus. "It generally takes two to four weeks for the influenza vaccine to work effectively."
At Arkansas Children's Hospital, they've already had three children suffer severe cases of the flu.
"We've already had kids admitted in November with influenza-one to intensive care-and that's unusual," he said. "Generally we don't see influenza in Arkansas until December or even January."
Gilliam and the CDC agree that it's dangerous not to vaccinate.
"I have asthma and bad allergy, and they always advise patients with bad immune conditions to go ahead and get the shot," said Amanda Hadfield. "I got it when it first became available around the first of October."
Some patients are more vulnerable to catching the flu than the average person. That includes people with diabetes and heart disease; people undergoing chemotherapy and pregnant women.
"Women during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having complications of influenza," Gilliam said.
Not getting vaccinated also puts babies at risk, who are too young to be vaccinated.
"So that's really important that mom and dad, aunts and uncles, grandparents, that are in that household, that they get vaccinated because that child under 6 months of age is too young to get vaccinated," Gilliam said.
Pharmacist Aaron Brown said there are flu shots that protect against three or four strains of flu, but in some cases, people catch a strain that is just too strong for the shot to guard against. Experts advise getting the shot as soon as possible but no later than January.