JASPER & NEWTON COUNTIES, Mo. — We are now in October, and that means it’s the start of flu season.

We spoke with officials from the Newton County Health Department, along with Mercy Health, and so far — numbers are low for flu, COVID-19, and common cold cases.

They say, now is the perfect time to get those vaccines — for the best chances of staying protected throughout the entire season.

“You know, some people want to start at the first of September, that’s a little early. Really, October and through December would be a great time to get that vaccination,” said Larry Bergner, Newton County Health Dept. Administrator.

Like every year, those numbers will soon increase as gatherings for holidays do, too.

And getting vaccinated now helps you stay protected through the peak of the cold and flu season.

“It takes about a month to build up full immunity. Then you have great immunity for about 3 months. Then the last 3 months, you’ll start to wane on immunity, but still have some,” said Donna Stokes, Mercy Health, Infection Preventionist Lead.

For flu shots — it’s as simple as walking into your primary care doctor’s office or local pharmacy — even without an appointment.

But what about the COVID-19 virus?

“Our numbers are really low. We have about 30 cases that we know of in the county. Of course, our population is about 56,000. So, 30 or so. Now, there are more than that because people have the home tests and they’re not reporting,” said Bergner.

Many places, including the Newton County Health Department — are not offering any COVID-19 vaccines.

Simply because there’s no demand for them, yet. However, the future could offer an easier vaccine option for both the flu and COVID-19.

“We really anticipate that Covid Vaccine will eventually be included in the Flu Vaccines,” said Stokes.

To find COVID-19 vaccines near you – go to vaccines.gov. And like every flu season, wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick.

Something new this year — Stokes tells me, this COVID-19 vaccine is not a booster, anymore.

It’s an updated vaccination, created to target recent strains of the virus.