People opt for earlier vaccination during flu season

In Hawaii, flu season is year round. But according to the state Dept. of Health, the flu season typically runs from November to May on the mainland.

Doctors say more people are educated about the flu, so they’re getting vaccinated earlier this year to avoid getting sick.

Dr. Pani Shoja, medical director for Urgent Care Hawaii, says the Pearl City location has been getting between 10-15 calls a day asking about the flu shot, and 2-3 inquiries at the Waikiki location. Other doctors are also seeing more activity.

“We had a lot of cases of influenza A last year and B throughout the spring,” Shoja said, “so people are starting to pick up on the fact that if they come in early enough to get their flu shot that they probably won’t get it a second time around.”

Dr. Jim Ireland, assistant clinical professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, says “just in the last week, we have seen 3-4 cases. One person even had to be put in the hospital. He got moved to the ICU, so there’s definitely concern from my standpoint that just in my personal practice, we have seen a little spike.”

The Dept. of Health said it hasn’t heard of an increase in flu activity, but just because people get sick, it doesn’t mean it could be the flu.

Dr. Shoja says the flu shot can cause immunity for up to 6-8 months, but it does take about two weeks to kick in. The DOH encourages flu vaccinations, but also stresses that good hand hygiene and covering your mouth when you cough goes a long way to keep you protected.

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