IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

With the change in season comes the flu, and health experts say this year's flu season is off to it's earliest start in ten years.

After public health officials reported three flu-related deaths in Idaho this week, doctors and nurses are encouraging everyone over the age of six months to get vaccinated.

Doctors said the sooner you get the shot the better because in most cases, the anti-bodies in the vaccine take up to two weeks to protect you from the virus.

"There are certain high-risk people we really want to hit," said James Corbett, immunization coordinator. "Children under 5 have a harder time if they get the flu, people over 65 have a harder time, and pregnant women have a harder time."

More than one-third of Americans have gotten their flu shots but if you still haven't received yours, doctors say now is the time.

"Come in now before Christmas and before families gather around," said Corbett.

Most people who get the flu recover after a few days, but to avoid getting it altogether there are some tips: cover your mouth or nose when sneezing or coughing. Avoid people who appear sick. Stay home from work or school when sick and wash your hands frequently.

"Especially if you're feeling ill, wash your hands," said Ken Anderson, epidemiologist. "If you are feeling ill, try not to handle food at that time or make food for other people."

Getting the flu shot will give you full coverage for the entire flu season.

If shots make you nervous, ask your doctor about alternatives such as a nasal spray.

For more information, including which type of vaccine is suitable for you, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.