Published on December 17, 2013

SVPC Dr. Prince says Flu season is among us

Author: Erica Rakow, General Assignment Reporter, WJXT

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Flu season is among us even here in the warmer state of Florida.

Last year's flu season was one of the worst in recent memory and officials say although this season is off to a slower start, people should still get flu vaccines.

Despite the vaccine's success rates, this year, only 40% of people ages six months or older have been vaccinated. A local doctor said that number should be a lot higher and that the flu shot is nothing but beneficial to your health.

"It's our weather, it's warmer here so our season is later typically in November and December its hitting the rest of the nation pretty hard but it doesn't hit here until January or February," said Dr. Vickie Prince with St. Vincents Hospital.

Dr. Prince said the number of flu cases in Florida are typically lower than other states due to a shorter flu season, but new CDC guidelines suggest getting the vaccine as soon as it's available.

"The CDC now recommends the flu shots be given immediately after they're available. In the past they recommended mid-October or later, but as soon as you start seeing flu shot signs, get it right away," said Dr. Prince.

In 2012, 381,000 people were hospitalized and 169 children died from the flu.

The good news is the flu vaccine prevented millions of illnesses in 2012.

It's estimated that it prevented 6.6 million people from getting sick, 3.2 million from going to a see a doctor and at least 79,000 hospitalizations

Dr. Prince recommends getting a flu shot every year because new strains of the flu are found every summer and new shots are made each year to protect you from those specific strains.

"The flu virus changes every year and throughout the year, so a year that's bad and a strain comes out that we haven't seen before, there's many people who are not immune to it," said Dr. Prince.

You may have heard that getting the flu vaccine makes you sick. Dr. Prince said that is a giant rumor. She said many tests have been done negating that the flu shot will make you sick. She adds that the shot is a killed virus, not live, so it's impossible for it to cause an illness.