This season is highest flu activity since 2009; doctors still recommend the flu shot


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Doctors in the area are still encouraging you to fight the flu with the vaccine.

Many physicians said they have been giving out flu shots more frequently this season compared to your typical flu season and encourage you to check in with your local pharmacy if you haven't gotten the shot just yet.

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"Vaccine is the best option to prevent the flu as of right now," said Dr. Vince Ettare, with the Timberlake Family Pharmacy.

Dr. Ettare has owned Timberlake Family Pharmacy for the last decade and said he's administered the flu shot for all 10 of those years.

"Every year we try to purchase just enough to meet the demand, because, unfortunately, we don't get credit back from the manufactures for it," he said.

This year, they started with several thousand, but now are down to only 20.

Dr. Ettare said they will order more if that's what his patients need, though.

Over at Forest Family Physicians, they just got in 400 more shots, after running out over a week ago.

Dr. Thomas Eppes said they've been giving out the shot left and right, but thankfully, at his practice, you can return unused vaccines for a partial credit.

"We've given more in this recent blast of time, even though we still have people refusing to take them," said Dr. Eppes, who started administering the shot in the middle of August. "The season starts when the vaccine comes in, and technically you're supposed to immunize up until the end of April."

Dr. Eppes recommends it for everyone, especially his young, old, and immuno-compromised patients.

And while this flu shot doesn't cover all strains, Dr. Eppes said the shot can prevent the flu from happening more than once and the flu virus rarely morphs into the month of April.

"A less than perfect immunization, is better than no immunization at all," he said.

Doctors agree that getting the flu shot is worth it, but to also remember proper hygiene and cleaning counters and surfaces around you to prevent the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this season is the highest level of flu activity since the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

Currently, they said 37 children have been killed from the virus.

Last week, one in 15 doctor visits were for symptoms of the flu, which is the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

39 states have reported high-flu traffic, but there is some good news as the CDC said that hospital stays and deaths from the flu, among the elderly, so far haven't been as high in some other recent flu seasons.

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