With winter closing in, the time to get your flu shot is now

It’s the gift that can keep on giving even when the holidays end: Getting your flu shot.

According to Shelly Maag, a registered nurse at Lewis and Clark Public Health, there was a major surprise this season.

“In the middle of September, we started seeing cases (seven) which was kind of alarming,” Maag said. “In the past week we have seen a couple of cases come through, so it is starting to resurface again which is about the time of year we start seeing influenza.”

The good news is you have a great deal of control on prevention of spreading the flu.

“Whether it’s stomach or respiratory (flu) is not to be around people if you are sick. With the flu, you’re going to spread it by what you cough, wipe your nose, then you touch things and people wipe their nose put their hands in their mouth — especially kids. That’s how you spread the flu.”

Maag said there are groups who are most vulnerable to the flu, and that is why it is important for people most often around them to get their flu shot.

“If you look at babies, they can’t get a flu shot until their six months old; it’s not approved. If you have babies in the house, then the people in the household should get the flu vaccine because these babies don’t have the flu vaccine to produce anti-bodies to protect themselves.”

Older people, too, have to be aware.

“As you get older, your immune system doesn’t work as well. So, people who are elderly their immune systems aren’t functioning as well, they can get the flu and get hospitalized causing other illnesses.”

The vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women. Almost all insurances cover the flu vaccine. The Health Department takes people who walk in every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.