Early flu season hits hard in Coastal Empire and Lowcountry - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Early flu season hits hard

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The Georgia Department of Health says this is the earliest flu season on record. Scores of people are becoming ill, and hardly anyone has gotten their flu shot. In fact, statistics taken at the end of November show less than 37 percent of people in the United States had been vaccinated.

Many places like Walgreens said last week they gave out around five flu shots. So far this week, they've done almost 20.

Pharmacists at Walgreens say South Carolina and Mississippi have the highest flu cases.

Most at risk for catching the flu virus are the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those who's immune systems are compromised. "They also found that people who are morbidly obese are at greater risk for complications from infection with the flu," explained Walgreens Pharmacist, Marian Bell, "About 200 thousand people per year are hospitalized due to flu

related illness. About 50,000 people die each year. So, it's very important to protect yourself."

"Keep in mind, the shot takes a good one to two weeks to become effective," said Dr. Ben Spitalnick. "So, if you've been exposed to the flu, keep an eye out for the symptoms."

Those symptoms include congestion, cold, cough, chills, fever, aches and pains. See a doctor within first two days of onset of symptoms. They can give you antiviral medications that will halt or ease your symptoms within the first 48 hours.

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