NEWBERRY COUNTY — The fever, chills, sneezes and sniffs are hitting many around the county as the flu season has hit early this year.
Newberry County Memorial Hospital Spokesperson Brenda Williams says the hospital staff is seeing cases of the flu earlier and more cases this year.
In fact, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported widespread cases of the flu between Nov. 18-24.
By Nov. 24 over 1,200 people in the state had tested positive for the flu with the rapid flu test and of those 38 people were hospitalized. So far there have been no confirmed deaths in the state due to the flu.
According to the Centers of Disease Control there have been significant increases in flu activity in the U.S. in the last two weeks indicate that an early flu season is underway.
Flu cases started being reported at the hospital in November and there were four cases treated at the hospital last week.
Of the cases seen at the hospital, some patients had to be admitted for care.
The staff at Doctors Care says they are seeing lots of flu cases with 10 cases over the weekend alone and add they have not seen as many cases as they are seeing now.
While many are suffering to get through the illness there are still ways to prevent the flu.
Many of the symptoms include fever, chills, some have vomiting and other issues found with colds.
Williams says that washing hands and staying home if you have symptoms can help stop the spread of the virus.
However, one of the best ways to prevent the flu according to experts is to get a flu shot.
“Flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”
Also national flu shot week is this week.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. It’s available in two forms: a shot and a nasal spray. Flu shot options include the regular flu shot, the new intradermal flu shot, and a high-dose flu shot. While the regular flu shot can be given to just about everyone, the intradermal flu shot is approved for use in adults 18 through 64 years of age, and the high-dose flu shot is for people aged 65 years and older. The nasal spray vaccine is approved only for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren’t pregnant.
Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu,” says Schuchat.
But remember it takes about two weeks for a person to build up the antibodies after getting the flu shot.
Locally shots are still available at the Newberry Health Department at the corner of Wilson and Smith roads.
The shots are $25. But the shot is free for Medicare and Medicaid patients and many insurance companies will pay for the vaccine.
They are being given by appointments by calling 321-2170 or on a walk-in basis. Walk-ins are welcome from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
Also some drug stores like CVS and Rite Aid are still giving the shot.
The flu season is expected to last through February.