As the New Year quickly approaches, so will peak flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year the flu has reached every state in the country and has reached what is considered epidemic proportions in seven of the 10 regions of the U.S., a flu specialist with the CDC told WebMD. Additionally, a map from the CDC shows that there is widespread flu activity in 23 states across the country.

The CDC advises everyone older than six months of age get the flu shot if they aren’t allergic. In most places, the shot should be available until January or February as the flu season can last months, sometimes even until May. It takes about two weeks for the body to create the antibodies for the virus, so those getting the vaccine should plan to do so as early as possible.

The vaccine not only protects those who have it from getting the flu, but it can help better equip the body to fight off the flu if they do get it, and it can also reduce the risk of hospitalization due to the flu.

How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine?

This flu season, the CDC is only recommending the injectable flu vaccine, rather than the nasal spray. The effectiveness of the vaccine varies each season as the strain of the virus adapts and adjusts to its environment, but generally the vaccine is about 40 to 60 percent effective in protecting the population from the flu.

This year, the cell-grown prevention methods are a fairly good match for the common strains of the flu that are circulating. But the egg-grown, the version of the vaccine that most people get, isn’t quite as effective.

What To Do If You Get The Flu

The CDC says that most people do not need anti-viral drugs to beat the flu and should stay home to improve wellness and avoid spreading the disease. However, those in high-risk groups like the elderly or the very very young might need to see the doctor and a prescription. 

Where To Get The Flu Vaccine

Many chain drug-store retailers have the flu vaccine available. The CDC also has a flu vaccine finder