FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 19, 2013) -- The 2013-2014 flu season is here and although no major outbreaks have been reported in Alabama, Lyster Army Health Clinic is getting ready to vaccinate Fort Rucker Soldiers against the newest flu strain -- Influenza A, H3N2.

The newest vaccination is a combination of what researchers believe will be the three most common influenza viruses this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"To maintain mission readiness, Fort Rucker Soldiers will receive vaccinations first, followed by Fort Rucker employees and LAHC patients," said Lt. Col. Samuel Jones, chief of preventive medicine at LAHC.

Between 135 million and 139 million flu vaccine doses will be produced for this year's flu season, though more can be produced if necessary, according to the CDC.

It takes the body about two weeks to build antibodies against the influenza virus after vaccination, which is why getting the flu shot early is ideal, Jones said.

"While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it's especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications, or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications," Jones said.

Those at higher risk for complications from influenza include people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, children younger than 5 years old, and adults age 65 and older.

Taking the necessary steps to prevent or stop the spread of the flu include washing hands often with soap and water or using anti-bacterial gel when soap and water is not available, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, covering your cough or sneeze and staying home when sick.

To stay up to date on flu vaccine availability, be sure to check LAHC's website and Facebook page, or call the preventive medicine department at 255-7260 or 255-7332.

Those interested in monitoring where the flu occurs most in Alabama can visit the Alabama Department of Public Health's virtual flu tracker page at http://dph.state.al.us/influenza/maps/laboratory-confirmed.

Page last updated Thu September 19th, 2013 at 13:22