As flu season approaches, pharmacists say get your shot now

By Matt Porter

September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 9:15 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Retired MacArthur school staff member Barbara Fox is religious about her flu shot.

She gets it every year.

"To stay healthy and not get the flu. I have asthma, and it could be dangerous if I get the flu," Fox said.

Fox said she hasn't gotten sick once since she started getting the flu shot more than 15 years ago.

"I had pneumonia twice in my lifetime," she said, "And I haven't had anything since they started the flu shots."

Each year, the United States develops a vaccine against different strains of the virus.

Thomas Giovinazzo, a pharmacist, said the flu shot can be given to almost anyone except those with allergies to the vaccine.

"The CDC recommends everybody get a flu shot, whether your 6 months old or older," Giovinazzo said. "So I would recommend every individual to get a flu vaccine if you're 6 months or older."

He said now is the best time to get the shot.

"The best time to get your flu shot would be in the fall, maybe late September or October, because you produce the most amount of antibodies 12 weeks after you receive the vaccine," Giovinazzo said.

For the first time, some flu shots are offering protection for up to four strains of the virus, instead of the normal three.

But Giovinazzo said even if you contract a different strand, you have some protection.

"The flu shot is fairly reliable," he said, "Because even if they don't get the exact strand, the strand they do pick is likely to give you some kind of effect because of the way the viruses are."

And with the shot available at almost every pharmacy, people like Fox say it's one of the easiest things you can do to keep the flu at bay.

"There's so many places you can stop in and get it," Fox said. "You don't have to wait."

The CDC reports there will be at least 135 million doses of this year's flu shot available.

Half of those doses have already been distributed to pharmacies, doctor's offices and hospitals.