Preparing For Flu Season - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Preparing For Flu Season

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SALISBURY, Md. - Don't let the warm weather fool you.  We may have a break from winter for a few more days, but it will get chilly soon, and with colder weather comes cold and flu season.

According to the CDC, nearly 50,000 people die each year from the virus. And Maryland reported its first confirmed case of the flu earlier this week, in what might be one of the first reports of the illness for the entire season.

So how bad will this year be?

"We never know what's coming," Karen Mihalik of PRMC's Infection Prevention said. "What happens is the Centers for Disease Control ... figures out what strain they think it's going to be."

Mihalik says the CDC makes its best predictions based on what strain showed up last year. So if they're not sure what's coming, how can we prepare?

"Flu prevention is best done by the flu vaccine," said Marina Byrd, a pharmacy student at UMES. "Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine annually."

There are other ways of prevention, like frequent hand washing, covering up when you cough or sneeze and staying away from people who are sick.

"You are contagious a day before and up to a week after you get the flu," Byrd said.

Preventing against the illness can be tricky, so experts say the best thing to do is suck it up and get the shot.

PRMC made that easy - and somewhat painless - this week, as nearly 4,600 people got vaccinated at its annual Drive Thru flu clinic.

If you missed the event, check with your doctor or a local pharmacy for information on the vaccination they're offering.

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