We’ve been warned! The flu season has already started — and it could be a bad one.
That was the word Monday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suspected flu cases have been reported in five Southern states — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
It is usually sometime after Christmas before a flu outbreak occurs. The CDC said the last time the season started this early was in 2003-04, and that proved to be one of the most lethal seasons in the past 35 years, with more than 48,000 deaths.
If there is any good news, it is that this year’s influenza vaccine seems to be effective in staving off the flu. In 2003-04, the vaccine was not as effective in providing protection.
More good news is that the flu vaccine is plentiful in our area. Brenda Caldwell of the Allegany County Health Department said supplies are available at the health department and at various pharmacies, medical offices and clinics throughout the area.
The flu vaccine is available on a walk-in basis at the health department’s Willowbrook Road complex every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. The vaccine will be administered as long as supplies remain.
An estimated 112 million Americans have been vaccinated so far, the CDC said. Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older.
Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, head and body aches and fatigue. Some people also suffer vomiting and diarrhea, and some develop pneumonia or other severe complications.
If you have not been vaccinated, don’t take a chance. The flu is nothing to take lightly.