Grand Strand Regional Medical Center hosts clinic to prevent flu

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Flu season, which usually peaks in January, is coming early this year and Grand Strand Regional Medical Center is sponsoring a community walk-in clinic tomorrow to provide flu vaccines in Little River.

Influenza illnesses spiked early last year in the United States in November and December. The Centers for Disease Control said a jump in flu cases, this year, is expected in the next few weeks.

Although flu trends vary from year to year, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center Infection Preventionist Winona McLamb says, one thing that does not change is that the flu can be prevented.

"Influenza is a vaccine preventable illness and what people don't realize is every year there are influenza deaths. children die from influenza, older people die from influenza, healthy people die from influenza and the complications of influenza so it doesn't make sense not to take the influenza vaccine," she says.

McLamb is not alone when it comes to encouraging people to get the vaccine.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months old and older gets vaccinated annually.

"There are different brands, some recommended for different age groups. This year we have one available, it may not be available at all sites, but there is an influenza vaccine for those who are allergic to eggs." McLamb says that there is a vaccine out there for everyone.

Last year, the flu hit the United States hard which lead to a shortage in shots.  Manufacturers expect to produce between 135 million and 139 million doses of the influenza vaccine for use in the United States during this years season, according to the CDC.

Specialists at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center do not think a vaccine shortage will be an issue this year.

Traditional flu vaccines, are those that protect against three flu viruses.  There are two influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2 as well as one influenza B virus.  Grand Strand Regional Medical Center nurses and nursing students will be giving flu shots at the clinic that protect against all three strains.

The hospital recommends flu shots to everyone, especially "high risk," patients including those who work in healthcare, those who will be around someone with a chronic disease, anyone over 65 years old and childcare workers.

Shots will cost $20 for anyone at or above 16 years old.  If you're a Medicare recipient you won't be charged with a red/white/blue Medicare Card.

The clinic is on October 24, between two and four in the afternoon, at River Hills Medical Plaza in Little River.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved.