HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Now is the time to get your flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's reporting more than 120 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed so far this season.
Locally, Internal Medicine Physician of Comprehensive Care at Hattiesburg Clinic, Dr. Rebecca Lauderdale, said the number one step to fighting the flu is the vaccine.
"There are about 36,000 people who die of flu-related complications every year. That's about the same number of the people who die in car accidents," Lauderdale said.
With a daunting number like that, Dr.Lauderdale said you have to protect yourself from this contagious virus.
"They can even shift in one season. So, we may see Influenza B in one part of the season, then begin to see Influenza A," Lauderdale said.
These threatening strains of flu call for an aggressive defense.
"Flu vaccine, flu vaccine, flu vaccine," Lauderdale said.
Lauderdale said another step in protection is to be mindful.
"Be careful around people who might be sick, which is really anybody," Lauderdale said. "Careful with hand washing. You can do hand washing or alcohol-based hand sanitizers do kill flu virus."
Lauderdale strongly encourages folks over 60 and those who have a chronic illness to get their flu shot. The CDC said everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated. If you've ever thought the shot gave you the flu, Lauderdale said this could be the reason:
"Because it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to give you full immunity, so you have gotten the flu somewhere else and it just seems associated, but it's coincidental," Lauderdale said.
Other tips to prevent the flu are: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Be sure to stay home when you are sick, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.