While the “official” start of flu season is still two weeks away, the Division of Public Health is urging residents not to wait to get vaccinated.

Four cases of the flu now have been confirmed, and with at least one case in each county, flu is now statewide in Delaware. In addition to the two cases of influenza announced last week, one in a Sussex County woman and one in a New Castle County woman, a 40-year-old Kent County woman has since been diagnosed with Influenza Strain B. None of the women were hospitalized, but DPH is now confirming its first flu-related hospitalization in a 38-year-old New Castle County man.

“We are asking residents not to put off getting their flu vaccine,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “With flu activity already occurring statewide before the ‘official’ start of the flu season, which is Sept. 30, we are feeling a sense of urgency to make sure people are making plans and appointments to get their flu shot sooner rather than later. It is not too early.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now also will provide protection during the entire flu season.

Flu vaccines are offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. While not all physician offices may have their vaccine supply in yet, flu vaccines can be located by Googling “CDC flu finder” and entering a ZIP code.

DPH will also offer various other flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. The agency also has the free community flu clinics scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Porter State Service Center, 511 W. Eighth St., Wilmington; and from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at Delaware Department of Transportation Administration Building, 800 S. Bay Road, Dover. The first 200 people to get their flu vaccines at the Oct. 5 clinic in Wilmington will receive a gift card.

For more, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 800-282-8672.