News 12 11pm/ Monday September 30, 2013
Aiken, SC (WRDW)----Don Wright knows a lot about the flu and he should. Wright's job is to collect info on illness at Aiken Regional Medical Centers .
"We've heard from colleagues across the river and in the Midlands and the up part of the state that influenza is beginning," Wright told News12.
And while 5 cases have been confirmed in the state at the hospital it's a different story.
"We have not had any lab confirmed cases in our facility as of yet," he said.
The signs show we could have an early flu season like last year, but Wright says that's starting to become the norm because of the numerous strands of flu.
"They can last a long time or they can go away real quickly. It just basically means the season is early and probably going to be more severe," said Wright.
Because of that he says it's important to get a flu shot and to not be scared. The shot can't get you sick.
"Influenza vaccination can not give you the flu. They are a dead viruses. They are pieces of dead viruses. All that it's doing is tricking the immune system into believing that your exposed to the whole thing," he told News12.
He adds that the idea that some flu shots are weaker than others isn't true. The shots change because the strains change and some can hit harder than others, but he says always keep an out for symptoms.
"Now it's going to be difficult to tell the flu from a garden variety cold, but the flu is usually associated with a higher fever. You know some people even say that their hair hurts when they have the flu," he said.
If you start to feel like that go to your doctor and stay away from others.
"If you are sick with the influenza virus, or think that you are, you should do some social distancing. You shouldn't go out and spread the love. You should stay home and take care of yourself as much as possible," he told News12.
36,000 people do die from the flu each year and that's why Wright says avoid everyone, but especially hospitals and day care centers. Usually folks in those places have a weaker immune system and the virus could hit them harder. And as part of the Affordable Health Care Act -your insurance is supposed to cover the flu shot with no co-pay.
Flu Shots in South Carolina: http://www.scdhec.gov/flu/clinic-options.htm
Fly Shots in Georgia: http://linktown.wcnc.com/tag/flu-shots/augusta/ga