Marshall health providers say flu vaccine still an option to battle this year’s virus

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The annual flu season is under way and infectious disease experts, including the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s Dr. Thomas Rushton, say this year’s virus is hitting early and often.

 “The last 10 years or so influenza hasn’t typically shown up before the new year,” Rushton said.   “This year there were a significant number of cases reported around Thanksgiving.” 

More than half of the states in the U.S. are experiencing high levels of flu-like illness, and flu activity continues to be on the rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest FluView report.  While West Virginia is reporting only moderate levels of flu-like illness, Rushton said it’s still a good idea to get a vaccination because the flu season can last well into spring.

“There is still time for the flu vaccine to be effective, therefore we are recommending that people get it,” Rushton said. “Normally, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to actually kick in and the flu season has yet to reach its peak.   Everyone 6 months of age or older should get one.”

Typical flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches and general malaise.   Rushton says anyone experiencing these type symptoms should call his or her health care provider.

About 112 million Americans had been vaccinated by the end of November, the CDC report said. Manufacturers were expecting to produce about 135 million total doses this year.

On average, about 25,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC.

Date Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013