Cooler fall weather usually brings cold and flu season. It’s not too soon to think about getting a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone over six months of age get a flu shot before the flu season starts.

This year there are several new formulations of the flu vaccine so ask your local pharmacist, who is a medication expert, what type of vaccine is appropriate for you. Many Arkansans go unvaccinated for diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles. In 2011, only 40 percent of Arkansans over age 18 received a seasonal influenza vaccine while the rate for the U.S. as a whole was 45.5 percent.

We don’t yet have the numbers for 2012, but we know that more people need to get immunized. A good reason to get a flu shot is to protect your health as well as protecting family members, co-workers and friends.

Up to 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. can be attributed to influenza. During the 2012-13 flu season about 60 Arkansans died of complications from the flu. Over half were people ages 65 years and older; however, five were under 18 years of age. Those deaths could have been preventable with a flu shot.

The flu vaccine is changed each year to reflect changes in the type of flu circulating. The CDC has already announced several types of flu vaccine for the 2013-14 flu season. Most pharmacies already have flu vaccine in their stores. During flu season rumors spread almost as quickly as the flu virus. The most common rumor is people saying they got the flu after getting the flu shot.

However, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. These people may have been exposed to the flu virus before or just after they got the shot, or they may have contracted a different kind of illness with flu-like symptoms. There have also been reports about flu shots leading to autism but all of those reports have been proven false. Find health care providers that offer flu shots at HealthMap Vaccine Finder, which includes information about specific vaccinations offered at each location. Visit:

Protect your health and your family’s health this flu season by getting vaccinated. Most pharmacies offer flu vaccinations during their regular business hours so getting the flu shot is as easy as getting a prescription filled.

Carita Black

Alma pharmacist