It’s not flu season just yet, but it is time to get ready.

“Now is the time to get your flu shot,” said Larry Jones, director of the Independence Health Department.

Most pharmacies offer shots, as do physicians. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance is supposed to cover the entire cost, as does Medicare for those on that program.

Flu shots help in a lot of ways, Jones said.

“It’s very important (to get a shot) every year,” he said. “Flu is one of the diseases that changes each year.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone 6 months and older, with rare exceptions, should get a flu shot.

In the case of young children, Jones said, a shot protects them, and it protects those around them, as young children tend to be primary spreaders of the disease. A child himself might have little more than the sniffles, but he can easily pass the flu on.

The flu also takes a toll on the elderly, and it can lead to pneumonia. Jones said those 50 and older ought to consider getting a pneumonia shot as well.

“The older you get, the better you are to do it,” he said.

This year’s flu vaccine covers four strains of flu, as opposed to the usual two or three strains in years past. The shot is good for about a year.

“It’s not too early to get a flu shot,” Jones said. “It’ll last the whole season.”