It's that time of year again -- flu shots are on sale at locations all across the Tri-Cities.
However, doctors say the flu season typically does not peak in our region until after the first of the year, so is it too early to get a flu shot?
We checked with the regional health department to find out what the health leaders there say we should all do.
'Tis the season for flu shots, but it's not flu season just yet. With retailers across the Tri-Cities lobbying to sell you a flu shot, we wanted to find out when is the right time.
We met with Dr. David Kirschke, the medical director for the regional health office in Johnson City, to wade through the advertising hype. "The thing is flu season starts in October, so we could have a really early flu season," he said.
Dr. Kirschke says now is the time to get vaccinated against influenza.
The CDC recommends every receive their flu shot by the end of September to give the vaccine enough time to work in your body.
The same rule applies if you choose the flu shot or the flu mist. "The CDC really doesn't recommend one vaccine over the other," Dr. Kirschke said. "The most important thing is just getting vaccinated."
There are some new options out there this year. We learned the flu mist is designed to protect against four strains of the flu, while the shot is formulated to protect against three.
Health officials say more research is needed to determine if the additional protection helps.
A new flu shot is also available this year for those who are allergic to eggs. Experts say to check with your doctor for availability.
And as for the question, does the flu shot give you the flu? "The flu shot is totally inactivated, there is no live virus in it so it can't give you the flu," Dr. Kirschke explained.
But it's also not 100 percent effective at preventing it. "We think if you do get influenza and you've had the shot, at least it would have been more mild that it would have been," Dr. Kirschke said.
Also new this year: the regional health department will be offering flu shots in all schools across eight Northeast Tennessee counties. Parents should watch for flyers from their child's school.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends every one six months of age and older should get a flu vaccination. Some children who have not been vaccinated in the past may need to have two shots.
Health officials say the vaccine is good for about a year.