Flu Season Kicks Off Early and so do the Precautionary Methods
The virus usually reaches its peak between December and February but it can actually break out as early as October.
The Delaware Division of Public Health has just confirmed the first child case of influenza in a 5-year-old from Sussex County.
Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) is hosting a drive-thru flu clinic for their 24th season and for the first time ever, shots are free.
Jackie Smith of Salisbury tells WRDE that she got the flu shot because she works with children. "I got the flu one year and it was horrible. I thought that I was going to die so ever since then I've made a point to come to the drive thru clinic." Smith also says that she is constantly wiping the classroom down with Clorox wipes.
The flu season usually reaches its peak between December and February. Cases aren't normally confirmed until the end of October, but it started a little bit early this year. There's already been confirmed cases in both Delaware and Maryland.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 80,000 Americans died from the flu last season and Medical professionals at PRMC are expecting to see similarities in this year's flu but differences in this year's vaccine.
PRMC Pharmacy Supervisor, Valarie Sharma explains how this years vaccine is going to help combat the virus. "Every year the CDC recommends changes to happen in a vaccine. This year they've changed a couple of the what we call antigens, the components that are in the vaccine."
While the flu shot is the number one precaution to take, there are other ways to ward off the virus.
"Number two if you feel sick, stay at home so we don't spread the virus to anybody else. Number three stay away from people who do feel sick," says Sharma.
PRMC Community Relations Director, Roger Follebout Jr. says that washing your hands is one of the best precautions you can take. "Soap and water and also hand sanitizer, very important in particular if you're in those areas where you're touching pens or shopping carts that a lot of people have used."
PRMC is expecting to serve 2000 to 2500 people at this clinic and they want to do some myth busting to convince more people to get their shot before this year's flu starts to peak.
"You still hear a lot of people say that 'the flu shot gave me the flu'. That's not the case at all. There's nothing live in the flu vaccine that can make you sick. If you're coming down with the flu before you get the shot, you could catch the flu or if you encounter someone shortly after getting the shot because it takes about 12-14 days before your body builds up immunity," says Follebout.