New vaccine available as flu season approaches

Flu vaccinations may be far from the top of your priority list this September as you enjoy the sunshine and hot weather on the beach, but local medical professionals say getting vaccinated this month is not a bad idea.

"Go ahead and get that coverage, because you may be one of those unfortunate ones who get it early. If you have access to it, go get vaccinated," said Winona McLamb, a registered nurse at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.

McLamb told WPDE NewsChannel 15 that if you don't get vaccinated, you could risk serious illness or even death.

"Flu is not benign, you know it can cause deaths, and we do need to be vaccinated," McLamb said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from the flu throughout the country.

Those figures are dependent on the strains of flu that surface each year. McLamb said so far this year, no new strains have popped up; however, there is still time for new strains to appear. For instance, the H1N1 virus surfaced in the spring.

Although there may be no new strains, there is a new vaccine available. McLamb said it's called a quadrivalent vaccine, and it protects people against the flu with two strains of Type A and two strains of Type B.

Typically, people are given a trivalent vaccine, which has two strains of Type A and one strain of Type B.

Types A and B typically will cause the annual influenza epidemics.

At this time, the vaccine has only been tested on people between the ages of 2 and 49.

Aside from getting vaccinated, McLamb recommends people start practicing good respiratory hygiene, which includes coughing into your sleeve, rather than your hands, as well as making sure your hands are washed often and well.