SCRANTON — Flu season is off it its earliest start in the U.S. in a decade and one strain of the flu this year is hitting people hard, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Joseph Koval from Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton said the flu has not been seen here yet, but he said it is only a matter of time.
“This strain is more virulent than we’re used to seeing, but the good news is that the current makeup of the vaccine that we’re administering to our patients does indeed cover the outbreak that we’re seeing down south,” said Dr. Koval.
At Geisinger CMC there is a flu shot program aimed at employees.
Those who get the vaccine get a silver ‘G’ on their identification badges. Those who do not have to wear a mask around other workers or patients.
“There’s a lot of germs that can go in and out of my house potentially, so it’s great to get my flu shot that could take care of one of those things that could take us down, potentially,” said Geisinger employee Kara Badyrka who got her flu shot.
There are flu shots available at pharmacies all over the area, as well.
“It’s probably the worst thing. You’re just feeling achy and terrible all the time. There’s really no reason not to get it,” said Adam Olivetti of Dunmore.
Experts say the most important thing to remember is that the flu can and does kill people.
“The issue is the flu does kill people. Most of us are too young to remember outbreaks of flu, particularly the 1918 outbreak where many thousands of people died in the United States. We think of the flu as a few days of muscle aches, but the problem is, if you’re elderly or you’re very young, or have any chronic conditions, you are at very high risk of developing complications from the flu,” said Dr. Koval.
Dr. Koval said hand washing and staying away from crowds and sick people are important measures to keep from getting sick.
If you do think you have the flu, you should call your doctor right away.
As for the flu shot, Dr. Koval said some people think they can actually get the flu from the shot. That, he said, is medically impossible.