Health officials: 135 people hospitalized with the flu this season

A pharmacist at the Wal Greens on Wilson Street in Brewer prepares to inject a patient with the flu vaccine

Last year's vaccine was 42 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that number has been significantly lower in other years.

Flu is a contagious, viral illness that causes mild to severe symptoms that, in rare cases, can lead to death.

In 2014, 147 children died of flu - a lot of them from a particular strain, H3N2.

Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in SC at this point has been higher than normal.

Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma reported widespread activity during the week ended November 25, the report stated.

Fever, sore throat, body aches and cough are all signs of the flu that are often confused with the common cold. By the end of the year, the CDC declared an epidemic, with more than 20 deaths in just a few weeks before Christmas that year.

However, as Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, pointed out, the flu has potentially serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections.

Those who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick.

Added to that uncertainty is the question of how effective this season's vaccine may be in preventing people from getting the flu.




The immunization rate for health care employees is about 90 percent, Francis said, and hospitals require vaccines so patients are protected against the flu.

Are pregnant women getting "appropriate" care?

The Chickasaw Nation and Pontotoc County Health Department are offering flu vaccinations to the public at no cost from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center, 700 N. Mississippi.

"If you're not excited about getting vaccinated yourself, do it for the people you love", Mills said.

The shots are low-priced and available widely, including at large pharmacies, walk-in clinics, and doctors' offices. As part of the series, Joan Mann also discusses how her adult daughter, Kendra, sadly succumbed to the flu at age 35.

Flu shots are available at more than 300 locations around Vermont.

Being vaccinated better protects not only the individual, but also everyone around them.

"Everybody's risk is different", Schwartz said.

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