Nationally the U.S. is on target for one of the worst flu seasons on record. Doctors’ offices are inundated with flu patients.
“We’re seeing people have really high fever, severe body aches, nasal congestion, cough,” says Dr. Ryan Shelton of Carolinas Healthcare System.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now reports 41 states have widespread flu activity.
“It has just been a crazy flu season,” says pharmacist Laura Phelps. “We’re actually out of our Tamiflu right now, it’s just been selling off the shelves.”
17-year old Max Schwolert of Texas died from complications of the flu the day after Christmas.
“It started out as the flu, then went to pneumonia and a staph infection on top of that, so those three things combined just took over very quickly,” says Michelle Schwolert, his aunt.
His family says Schwolert did not get a flu shot this year. No one knows if it would have saved his life, but experts say the vaccine is a good match to the circulating virus, either preventing it altogether or taking some of the sting out of the illness.
“It can keep you out of the hospital, prevent you from getting pneumonia, even though you have a touch of the flu,” explains Dr. William Schaffner.
Many hospitals are strongly encouraging all of their employees get the flu shot. Duke University Health System reacted to the growing flu outbreak just last week.
“We’ve limited visitation to only adult visitors, so age 18 and older who are healthy,” says Dr. Thomas Owens.
There are no limitation on flu vaccines, which are widely available across the country. Doctors say the flu season could last into the spring.