HOUSTON - Flu season is upon us and this year, there are more choices offering more protection than ever before.
Whether you choose the nasal vaccine or the traditional shot, doctors are just urging everyone to get vaccinated.
Last year was one of the earliest and most severe flu seasons on record.
On average, about 20,000 kids under the age of five are hospitalized due to flu complications every year. Yet, only half of American kids are vaccinated against it.
"We're not doing a good enough job," said Dr. Pedro Piedra with the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology.
Dr. Piedra said the key to reducing flu cases is vaccinating school age children who are most susceptible and likely to spread it to others.
"They don't have good respiratory hygiene, the virus replicates at greater concentration and for longer period of time compared to an older adult, so really they're excellent vehicles," Dr. Piedra said.
The newest flu vaccines are more effective than ever.
"What is unique about the quadrivalent influenza vaccine is that it now covers all the potential viruses flu viruses that can circulate in any season," Dr. Piedra explained.
Also available this year is a new egg-free vaccine for those with allergies.
Again, all of these are effective, so it is up to you to choose which one you prefer.
While experts say that vaccines are your best bet when it comes to prevention, they're about 60 percent effective overall. So if you do happen to come down with the flu, there are some things you can do to ease your suffering.
"If you come in early enough to see your doctor, there are effective antiviral medications that can lessen the illness that's associated with the flu and if you have any underlying risk conditions they are even more beneficial," Dr. Piedra said.
Most importantly, if you are sick with the flu, stay home. You're not helping anyone by going to work or school where you can spread it to others.
While vaccines are the best prevention, good hygiene and hand washing can also keep the flu at bay.
Avoid close contact with sick people and make sure to get plenty of rest and eat healthy.
Click here for more tips on protecting yourself against the flu.
Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.