On Monday, the Missoula City-County Health Department will start offering flu vaccines to the public. Clinic Services Manager Colleen Morris says now is the time to start talking about flu shots.

“The Centers for Disease Control, again like last year, is recommending that we get everybody vaccinated by October 31st because after that is really when the flu season could hit hard,” Morris said. “We could definitely have cases starting anytime. I haven’t heard of any yet so far this fall, but that doesn’t mean it is not right around the corner.”

According to Morris, this year’s vaccine is a little different than the one that was given out last year.

“Most providers are choosing to carry a quadrivalent vaccine, which means it has four different strains in it,” Morris said. “There are two type A viruses and two type B viruses that will be covered and that is very similar to last year. The vaccine worked better last year than it had the year before. We are hopeful that it will be similar this year.”

Morris says it is really important that folks get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.

“It fights off any virus that you have been exposed to if you get it at least two weeks ahead of time of being exposed,” Morris said. “That is about how long it takes your body to develop immunity. That is why we encourage you to get it now. Don’t wait until we have flu in the community.”

In some cases, a flu shot can prevent someone from getting sick all together. If you get the flu shot and get sick with influenza, it won’t be as bad. Morris says you likely won’t experience the serious complications that you would if you had never been vaccinated.