Douglas County has its first confirmed influenza case of the season, health officials said Tuesday.
The person, who has been hospitalized, is a woman older than 50.
Officials used the case to remind people to get a flu shot. It takes about two weeks for the influenza vaccine to develop one's immunity, they said, so the sooner a person gets a flu shot, the sooner the protection kicks in.
Last year, the flu season began in October and didn't peak until mid-January, said Adi Pour, Douglas County's health director.
"The flu virus is notoriously difficult to predict, but it is here and a flu shot is your best protection," Pour said.
Kubat Pharmacy started getting busy giving flu shots around Oct. 10 when the temperature dropped, said Jim Quinley, a pharmacist at the 49th and Center Streets outlet.
"When it was unseasonably warm, people were staying away," he said.
Most people are asking for the standard flu shot, which Quinley said costs $25 to $30 at spots around town. The intradermal shots, which are injected into the skin through a small, thin needle, also are available, generally for about $30, he said.
FluMist, a nasal spray that contains a live virus, generally costs $10 to $15 more than a shot, Quinley said. The spray is for healthy people who are ages 2 to 49 and who aren't pregnant.
Medicare and most third-party insurers will fully cover the cost of a standard flu shot, Quinley said.
Quinley said both the standard trivalent shot, which protects against three flu viruses, and a quadrivalent shot, which protects against four flu viruses — two influenza A and two influenza B — are available this year. Kubat doesn't carry the quadrivalent shot, but Kohll's Pharmacy and others do. Kohll's offers the quadrivalent shot for $45.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't recommend one flu vaccine over another.
Laurie Dondelinger, a Kohll's spokeswoman, said most customers covered by Medicare are getting the quadrivalent or high-dose vaccinations.
If people want the quadrivalent shots, they should check with their neighborhood pharmacy for availability and prices and with their insurer to check on coverage.
Officials recommend that everyone older than 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine, but it is particularly important for some people, including: pregnant women; children — especially those younger than 2; adults 65 years and older; and people with chronic lung disease, asthma or diabetes.
For more flu season information, click here.