Health officials prepare for upcoming flu season

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- When schools are back in session and the temperatures begin to drop, that means the flu is also soon to arrive.

The 2019-2020 flu season vaccine.

According to the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention, flu season usually starts in October.

But local health officials want residents to prepare as soon as possible.

"Ideally we recommend that people get their flu shot by the end of October, because we don't know when flu season is going to start in earnest. So we want them to have it before the fltu starts circulating in our community," said Eau Claire City-County Health Department Public Health Nurse Allison Gosbin.

She says the flu vaccine is by far and away a person's best protection from the virus.

This year, the vaccine is different from past years.

"Researchers really look at what strains are circulating in the community and they base the vaccine on what they feel will be the most likely strain each fall," said Infection Prevention Manager at HSHS Sacred Heart & Saint Joseph's Hospitals Sue Galoff.

For the upcoming flu season, the CDC has updated the H1N1 and H3N2 strains of the vaccine to hopefully make them more effective.

That's why health officials say you should get the vaccine every year.

"The flu vaccine really should protect you throughout the entire season. Even getting it in October, it should carry you through the April, May time frame where we see flu start to diminish typically," said Galoff.

While everyone is encouraged to get the vaccine, certain groups such as young children, pregnant women, and people over 65 are more susceptible to the virus.

The health department cannot give out this years vaccine until given permission from the state health department.

Sacred Heart expects to receive the vaccine towards the end of the month.

Eau Claire health officials say following a record breaking flu season two years ago, more people than normal got vaccinated last year.

Which they say made a positive different in the number of cases locally.