MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The unofficial start to the flu season is here.
Every year, doctors say it’s hard to predict how intense each flu season will be. That’s why they recommend everyone take preventative measures as soon as possible and now is a good time to get started.
The owner of Carolina Forest Pharmacy, Sam Abraham, said sporadic cases of the flu could start as early as October, with the peak season around December to February. Doctors say the best way protection is getting the flu shot and practicing good hygiene.
Abraham said the flu shot has an inactivated virus in it. Once injected, the body recognizes the virus and builds antibodies against it. That mean the body is more equipped to protect itself from the flu.
Even if a person gets the flu shot, Abraham said it takes about two weeks for it to kick in. He encourages residents to get immunized now to protect themselves and others before peak flu season.
“I’ve heard expressions from patients where they tell you, ‘I feel I have run by a bus all over me.’ It’s like that complete body ache and tiredness, feeling tired, is unique to the flu virus versus the other bacterial infection," Abraham said. "At any urgent care or at any pediatrician or doctor office, they usually test for the flu virus and they will get an answer fairly quickly whether this person is positive for the flu or could be any other bacterial or viral infection.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80,000 Americans died last year from the flu. Out of that number, 179 were children. A new report from the CDC says the number of kids who haven’t received any vaccination has quadrupled since 2001.
Still, Abraham said he’s impressed by the amount of people that he’s seen receive their flu shot this year following a brutal flu season.
“Flu shot has been ... I’m really glad, I’m really impressed. I think with how strong the last flu season was, a lot of people are on top of it. If they haven’t, it’s not too late. It’s never really too late to have it, but you want to have it right before the flu season starts or right in October. That way you have your immune system up and ready in case those viruses are spreading,” said Abraham.
He encourages those who are able to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, to help protect those around you that may be more vulnerable to getting the virus.
“The flu in itself should be a virus that lasts three to four days a week max, and we should be out of it. Complications, weaker immunity, that’s when that virus can take advantage of the weakest among us, and that’s where the weakest among us are the most encouraged to have the vaccine," Abraham said. "And I’ll tell you what, even if you think I am young and healthy, you have your grandfather, you have your kids, and you can carry the vaccine and just pass it along to those weakest among us.”
Abraham says he’s aware of several flu cases going around the area already. Those who are interested in getting a flu shot can visit their doctor or see a local pharmacist.