Experts Prepare for Official Start of Flu Season

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AKRON -- For the Ohio Department of Health, October marks the official start of flu season. That means health departments across the state are now encouraging everyone to consider getting a flu shot.

The 2013-2014 flu season follows one that Dr. Gary Bollin of Akron General Medical Center says was particularly harsh.

"We had a lot of influenza type B, and the strain that we saw a lot of was one that wasn't covered in the vaccine and so there were a significant number of cases of influenza B," said Dr. Bollin, adding that the cases were also more severe than anticipated.

This year's vaccine formula includes the type B that hit everyone so hard last season.

Dr. Marguerite Erme of the Summit County Health Department says the vaccine has already been shipped to pharmacies, physician offices and clinics where people normally get a flu shot.

This year's vaccines also include a more potent formula for people over the age of 65 and a nasal formula for people who don't like needles.

The Center for Disease Control reports that 45 percent of Americans 6 months old and older got flu shots last year. Among the reasons some people do not get them is because they are concerned about getting the flu from the vaccine.

But Dr. Bollin says that should not be a concern.

"There are very rare incidents of people having reactions, but the vast majority of patients who get flu shots have minimal to no reaction, other than a local site reaction at the site of the vaccine and maybe a little aching," said Dr. Bollin.

He says the benefits of having a flu shot far outweigh the risks from getting the flu. He admits, however, that the flu season is unpredictable and so it's hard to say how bad it will be.

Click HERE for more information on flu season from the CDC.