The flu season is in full swing and now is absolutely the time to get your flu shot because it will take a couple weeks for the vaccine to get to full strength, say Banner Health physicians.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity will likely peak between December and February, with a 40-percent chance of a peak in December.

The latest data from the Arizona Department of Health Services shows that influenza cases in Arizona have tripled compared to past years at this time; more than half of reported cases this season involve infants, children and adolescents.

“It is not too late for a flu shot. It does take a couple weeks for the flu shot to be effective,’’ says Devin Minior, MD, medical director of Banner Urgent Care, which has locations throughout metro Phoenix, Tucson and in Colorado. Banner Urgent Care has already been patients coming in with ILI (influenza-like illness).

Minior says that everyone should get the flu shot but that there are specific groups of patients who will benefit the most from its protection; those patients who are over 65 years old and those who are young children.

Flu shots at available at all Banner Urgent Care locations. They are covered by most insurances.

If you think you have the flu, you should stay home and rest and avoid contact with others except to receive medical care, Minior suggests.

Unlike colds, the flu usually happens quickly, with flu patients experiencing achiness, fatigue very suddenly.  Other flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills. Not everyone with the flu will experience fever, however.

In addition to getting a flu shot, it is a good idea to practice good handwashing with soap and water and avoiding people who are sick.