Flu Season Came Early Last Year, Health Officials Say Be Prepared

Pittsylvania Co., - It's not officially Fall yet, but flu season is fast approaching. Health officials in our area say last year was one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. So the CDC is recommending you get your vaccine right away.

The Department of Health says flu season can start as early as October, and with more flu vaccines available than ever before, officials say now is the time to get vaccinated.
At Commonwealth Pharmacy in Chatham, flu shots aren't in high demand yet, but Pharmacist Jeff Rodden says last year's flu season kept them busy.

"We'd have right many people each day come in that would want to get it, " he said, but when did Rodden see his largest crowds?

"It was only after the flu got bad."
This year, health officials hope that won't be the case. They say getting your flu shot as early as it becomes available can be more effective in preventing infection.
Last year, local emergency rooms were slammed with flu cases. Hospitals even had to change their visiting policies and ask guests to wear masks.
The Danville/Pittsylvania County Department of Health's Epidemiologist, Verna Burnette, says prevention is the key, but that won't be found in popular over-the-counter products.
"It can support your immune system, which gives your immune system better ability to fight off a flu infection, but there's really no preventative over-the-counter medication, " Burnette said.
There are new options for getting the flu vaccine, from updated nasal sprays to others designed for specific age groups.
You can get a vaccine from your doctor, or pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. Officials say it's the first step to staying healthy this flu season.
"Protect yourself. Teach your children not to touch their face, nose, wash their hands. Cover your cough. Do all those things that we can do to prevent in a group setting from contracting the flu, " said Burnette.