Flu season is among us

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The change of seasons brings about a new attitude. Goodbye bug spray, hello flu shot.  Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness, which differs from the common cold, which is just contained in the head of the chest.

“To me a cold doesn’t affect your whole body like the flu does,” said Sierra Keller, a pharmacist at the CVS on North Frontage Road in Vicksburg. “The flu makes your whole body fall out while a cold is mainly up in the head or chest.

Larry Pilcher, also a pharmacist at CVS, said a person could have allergies, running nose or get sniffles from the cold air outside, while a person with the flu will fell terrible.

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CVS pharmacy administers no cost flu shots with most insurance companies and gives a 20 percent off shopping pass for those getting the flu shot in stores. Patrons who are allergic to eggs might want to steer clear from getting one, as Keller said eggs are in the shots.

Some of the common insurance companies accepted at CVS include Aetna, Express, Blue Cross Blue Shied, Medicare and Caremark.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, body aches and chills.

“It can be really bad and can last over a week. Some people die from it, generally older people or younger children,” Pilcher said.

There are two different kinds of flu shots, and a high dosage shot for people over 65-years-old is available.

“We have one that’s a trivalent and one that’s quadrivalent. One includes three stands of past flus and one includes four strands of past flus,” Keller said. “Usually every year they (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) add in the one from the previous year.”

The evolution of the flu shot during the season is constant.

“When it’s not flu season here, it’s flu season on the other side of the equator,” Pilcher said. “So whatever’s going on down there, they try to prep for up for the upcoming year here.”

It is possible to still get sick after getting the shot, which is due to a different strand of virus not covered in the shot. Also, Flu shots take effect 14 days after you’ve received the shot.

“(The shot) triggers your immune response, so you may feel like you’re getting sick but you’re really not,” Pilcher. “Your immune response is learning that flu and in the learning process it triggers a response, but you’re really not sick.”

Retail settings such as CVS can’t administer flu shots to a patron less than 7-years-old. They must get vaccinated at their pediatrician first before receiving the vaccine at CVS.

Pilcher and Keller said getting a flu shot and good hygiene are the best ways to protect against the flu.

For more information about influenze, visit www.cdc.gov.