CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Peak flu season is still a couple of months away, but doctors say you need to get your flu shot now so that you'll be fully protected when everyone starts getting sick.
Doctors say it takes up to four weeks for the shot to become effective.
Small children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems are known to be most at risk.
Dr. Frank Esper is an infectious disease expert at the Cleveland Clinic who says getting a flu shot protects more than you.
"Small children under the age of two, or elderly over the age of 65, or people who have bad lung disease or people that have bad heart disease or those that don't have a very good immune system are really at risk. We try to protect them the most, however some of those people can't get the flu vaccine like we can," said Dr. Esper.
If you were hoping to avoid the flu shot and get the nasal spray flu mist instead, you are going to be disappointed. The nasal spray flu vaccine is no longer available.
"There was a very low effectiveness in the nasal spray - especially in children who are the people who usually get the flu spray. The children were not getting protected nearly as much as they would have with the shot, so we stopped recommending the nasal spray for children and adults," said Dr. Esper.
Pharmaceutical companies are now trying to figure out why the nasal spray doesn't seem to work well.
How do we know that this may be a challenging season for the flu?
Esper says that the flu viruses usually travel from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere. So far this year, he says, what researchers are seeing in the Southern Hemisphere is a particularly bad flu season. Australia has had twice as many cases of influenza, twice as many hospitalizations and twice as many deaths from the flu than they have had in years past, according to Esper.