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Health officials: October is the best month to get the flu vaccine

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Health officials in Virginia and across the country are spreading the message that October is the best month to get the flu vaccine.

Doctors say the flu vaccine is most effective before the onset of flu activity in the community.

"You want to get the vaccine before the flu is out because it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be maximally effective," Dr. Rebecca Franzi-Osborne, Medical Director for Patient First's Battlefield Boulevard Medical Center in Chesapeake told News 3's Todd Corillo Tuesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of adults who get the flu shot have a protective antibody response within 2 weeks after vaccination.

During the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases press conference on flu vaccines in late September, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, stressed the importance of flu vaccines.

"I'm going to give you the bottom line up front. If we could increase vaccination coverage in this country by just 5 percent, just 5 percent more, that would prevent about 800,000 illnesses and nearly 10,000 hospitalizations," Dr. Frieden stated. "Flu vaccine is one of the best buys in public health. For employers, it will reduce your absenteeism rate. For families, it’ll reduce the likelihood that you have to miss school or work. And for all of us, increasing that rate will keep us healthier and reduce healthcare costs."

This year, the CDC is recommending against the nasal spray.

"We don't know why, but the vaccine efficacy data for the last couple of years suggest that it was not protective, and therefore we're not recommending it. It’s a really important vaccine. We know there are lots of kids who would much rather have the nasal spray than a shot, and for years my staff have been telling me, “Don't say the flu shot because it’s a vaccination, it might be a spray.” But this year, I can say flu shot," Dr. Frieden explained.

This year there are two basic types of the flu shot: one that protects against three strains and another that protects against four.

The CDC does not have a recommendation about which one people should get, just that they should get whichever is available.