It may seem strangely early to start thinking about flu season but public health officials are already urging the public to prepare. The Centers for Disease Control is recommending people get their flu vaccines before the end of October.

South Carolina DHEC isn’t reporting any flu activity yet, but local pediatricians are already planning their flu shot clinics.

At Parkside Pediatrics, Dr. Stephen Jones says they’ll start receiving the flu vaccine in the next few days and Parkside’s flu shot clinics begin in two weeks.

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The CDC says influenza activity begins to increase in October and November. It peaks between December and February and can last as late as May.

Since a vaccination gets a patient through the whole season and it takes time for it to be effective, Dr Jones says the sooner you get it the better. While no vaccine is perfect he says it’s the best protection we have and if you do get the flu, it’ll be a shorter illness.

“We want to provide good education about the flu vaccine,” says Dr. Jones, “We want to provide it as a resource for families. Most insurances, if not all, will cover 100 percent. So it’s really just getting the message out to parents and families to let them know this can be a serious illness and we want to take every measure we can to protect and prevent the flu.”

Health officials say it’s hard to predict the upcoming flu season because the timing, severity and length of it varies each year. Last year’s flu season did start very early and it turned out to be the deadliest year for the disease in recent history.

292 people died across South Carolina during the 2017-2018 flu season. The previous season saw just 94 deaths.

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