BEAUFORT COUNTY

Flu (shot) season begins in SC

cconley@islandpacket.comSeptember 28, 2012 

COURTESY OF MORGUEFILE.COM

  • Want a shot?

    Many local pharmacies are offering flu vaccines. For more information, go to www.flushot.healthmap.org and enter your zip code.

    DHEC will offer flu shots in Bluffton and Beaufort in the coming weeks:

    • The Bluffton Health Department has scheduled clinics every Thursday through Oct. 25.

    • The Beaufort Health Department has clinics every Tuesday between Oct. 9 and Oct. 30.

    Shots cost $25. Cash, checks and Medicare and Medicaid programs are accepted. Programs also are available for those who cannot afford the shot. Call 843-525-5915 to schedule an appointment.

Although flu season doesn't typically peak in South Carolina until February, state and local health experts say now is the time to get vaccinated.

"Simply put ... the flu is already around," said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, which tracks flu cases across the state.

"We are very early on -- we are just now starting the fall -- and we are already getting reports from physicians," he said. Twenty-two cases were reported from Sept. 16 through Sept. 22 compared to 11 during the previous seven-day period, he said.

Dr. Stephen Luther of Hilton Head Primary Care said the flu season usually runs from October through May in South Carolina. However, because it generally takes the body at least two weeks to develop sufficient antibodies after a flu shot or nasal spray is given, now is the time to head to a clinic.

It is too soon to know whether the 2012-13 flu strain will be mild or virulent, Luther said, noting that flu activity in the Hilton Head Island area can be affected by tourists, who can bring the virus into the area.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine this year. It protects against many types of flu including H1N1 "swine flu" and H3N2.

Vaccinations are especially important for pregnant women, people with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease and diabetes, and those 65 and older, according to the CDC's website.

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