This year’s procedure for getting a flu shot should be much simpler than last year’s. With the H1N1 and the seasonal flu vaccines now being combined, patients can expect to receive it as an all-in-one shot.
While the official flu season may still be a few months away, DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley says there are already private health care providers and pharmacies that are offering the vaccine.
We strongly ask that anyone who is interested in getting a flu shot to first of all contact your private health care provider, find out if it may be possible to go and get a shot there. And if not through your private health care provider, you can contact your DHEC county public Health Department and see if we can’t get you on a schedule there.
Last year the H1N1 flu was a new type of virus that health care officials were dealing with. That created concern because officials didn’t know what it was going to do. Beasley says it’s typical that the virus will change.
Flu viruses are always changing. That’s the nature of viruses in general. But flu viruses, because they’re always changing, we can’t really put our finger on where it’s going to be, so the month down the road, therefore we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated against the flu. The H1N1 component is a part of this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.
Beasley says the virus is always around and is more typical during the mid-winter months. He says that’s all the more reason that you are encouraged to check into getting vaccinated now before the seasonal rush.
At this point, the flu is not really prevalent across South Carolina. Typically we peak around the early part of the year, around, say, February and into March. But the flu does hang around, all the way, as late as, say, May of each year. Now that’s why H1N1 was kind of special. We even saw cases throughout the summer months when flu viruses normally aren’t here.
While Beasley acknowledges that not everyone may bother or even want to get vaccinated, he says there are ways to participate in the prevention of contracting or spreading the flu virus.
Even if you’re unable to get vaccinated or are unwilling, there are always some good, preventative measures to take to avoid getting sick, or if you do get sick, to avoid making others sick. Things like washing your hands, or covering your cough with the crook of your elbow, not with your hand. Stay home if you’re sick. Stay away from somebody who appears to be sick. And also, live a good healthy lifestyle.
There’s not a large supply of the vaccine in South Carolina right now, but he says the supply is en route.
We can’t worry about what everybody else is going to do, but you can, at least take personal responsibility for your own health and go out and get a flu shot to protect yourself and those around you from getting sick.
Beasley says being prepared for the flu season is a good idea, since the one thing experts agree on is how unpredictable the influenza virus can be.