The Duncan Banner

December 22, 2012

Flu takes aim at Stephens County

Officials fear worst, urge people to get the shot

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — The flu has struck the residents of Stephens County. Registered nurse Jojeanna Sanders, the Nurse Manager at Urgent Med and an emergency room nurse at Duncan Regional Hospital, said she has seen an increase in the number of flu-afflicted souls in just the past few days.

“There is lots of fever, cough, body aches and fatigue,” she said. “Its has gone up to anywhere between 80 to over a 100 a day here at Urgent Med.”

Sanders said the flu has been worse in Stephens County the past few years and she said this year could be worse.

“I have a feeling that it is going to be worse because people are having a hard time being seen by their primary care doctors,” she said.

Sanders said there are fewer primary care doctors than there has been in the past few years leaving more people with Urgent Med and the emergency room as their only option.

It is not too late for the Stephens County population to try and arm themselves against the pesky virus. Both Urgent Med and Stephens County Health Department along with other area pharmacies and clinics still have doses of the flu vaccine available.

“We still have flu shots,” Sanders said. “We will order more if we have to.”

Director of the Stephens County Health Department Mike Milton has a more limited supply at the health department but there are still vaccines available. He said the health department has vaccines for those that are under the age of 19 and he also has  the flu mist vaccine for those that are between the ages of 19 and 49. To be eligible for the flu mist vaccine, certain health conditions do apply. The flu mist is a live virus nasal spray that is not recommended for people with diabetes or a weakened immune system, which is why there is an age range for this vaccine.

“It has the potential to give you some minor flu-like symptoms,” Milton said.

Despite the possibility of being sick, Milton said it is very effective.

While a flu vaccine will decrease chances of catching the virus, Sanders said it will not guarantee it. She said that there are so many strains of the flu that someone with the vaccine can still catch the virus but the symptoms should still be lessened with the vaccine.

Milton said the Stephens County Health Department has given out 1,186 doses of the flu vaccine this year compared to 1340 last year. He said those numbers could be lower just because the clinic ran out of some vaccines.

Sanders also said that those that have already experienced the flu should still get a flu shot to help prevent catching another strain of the virus.

For those that feel themselves having fevers over 100 degrees with body aches and coughing, Milton said they are experiencing influenza-like symptoms but that it could not be diagnosed without being seen by a physician.

He recommended bed rest and managing the fever until a physician can be seen.

“If you can get to a physician, some physicians might prescribe something that might decrease the symptoms,” he said.

He also recommended that hands be washed regularly and that people cover their coughs to help keep the spreading of the virus at a minimum.

Sanders echoed his advice but also added that plenty of vitamins will help keep the immune system stronger against the flu and will quicken recovery time for those with the flu.