Health officials: Not too late for flu shots

Published 3:00 am Thursday, November 13, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like flu season in Pike County.

Earlier this week, the Charles Henderson High School drama department cancelled a production, citing the fact that several cast members were sick with the flu.

And health officials warn that the season is just beginning.

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“There have been fewer than 20 cases recorded at the (Troy Regional Medical Center) for this flu season, which began around the month of October, said Pam Ray, the emergency room director. “There has been no admission where people have to stay in for flu treatment.”

However, Ray said TRMC’s count does not reflect all cases of the flu in Pike County because in some cases people do not come to the ER, instead going to their primary doctors or the SARHA Doctors Center. Charles Henderson Child Health Center has yet to have available records as to how many flu cases it received, according to Tammy Ellis, a registered nurse at the Charles Henderson Child Healthcare Center.

“It’s not possible to determine what type of flu this is yet, because it’s still too early,” Ray said. “It’s always hard to tell at the beginning of the season, and (the flu type) varies from years to year.”

Health officials said it is not too late to get the flu shots, which can offer protection against the flu and are offered in several clinics and pharmacies. People can also receive flu shots at the Pike County Health Department by appointment.

“It takes two weeks for the body to build immunity for the flu,” Ellis said. “And since the flu virus is going around the community, people should get themselves vaccinated immediately.”

Ray said besides taking the flu shots, people should take extra precautions.

“With influenza, you should always be cautious,” Ray said. “No matter if it is a good or a bad flu season, you’ll experience bad symptoms if you catch it.

“It’s not anything you can cure, you just have to let it run its course. You can take antiviral drugs to lessen the symptoms and you have to start the medication within a few days of contraction. Antibiotics won’t help with the flu.”

According to Ray, the best way to protect your health in this season is hand-washing.

“Thoroughly wash your hands for a significant amount of time, from 40 to 60 seconds,” she said. “I make my kids sing the Happy Birthday song while they wash their hand (to make sure they wash their hands long enough).”

Ray also said parents should reduce the chance of the children’s exposure to the flu virus. She advised not to send children with flu symptoms to school to protect others as well.

The CDC is reporting sporadic influenza activity in Alabama. From Oct. 26 to Nov. 1, across the Region 4, including Alabama, Florida Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina, 9.3 percent of the people are tested positive for flu, the highest in the country. There has been one flu-related pediatric death in the region.