Get your flu shots early

Vaccine for the 2013-2014 influenza season has begun arriving in Hawaii.

Once again this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone 6 months of age or older get vaccinated.

While Maui did not see the vaccine shortages that were reported in some parts of the Mainland last year, the one sure way to make sure you don’t miss your dose is to get it early.

Last year, it appeared that the United States would enjoy a mild flu season until a springtime outbreak hit parts of the East and Midwest hard. One thing the CDC cannot predict is when outbreaks will occur – they could hit as early as October or as late as April or May (as they did last year).

And it is not untypical for there to be an early outbreak followed by a lull and then a recurrence late in the flu season.

Some pharmacies here on Maui are already advertising they have flu shots available. If you prefer, you can check with your personal doctor or clinic and see if they have the vaccine available. The CDC says there will be between 135 million and 140 million doses of vaccine available this year.

The most typical vaccine this year will protect against three flu strains.

We are intent on the subject of influenza because our grandmother died as a young, pregnant woman in the deadly outbreak of 1918. While that was perhaps the most lethal outbreak in U.S. history, there have been other severe outbreaks where many have died.

So, protect yourself and your family this influenza season. Get your flu vaccinations early.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.