It’s that time of year again

Published 7:53 pm Thursday, September 27, 2018

Summer’s nearly over. There’s just a tiny chill in the air in the early morning hours. The sun’s going down a little earlier each day.

Unfortunately, another late summer hurricane has stolen many last minute opportunities to get on the water — flooding has lasting effects and no one should swim in potentially contaminated water — and summer ends just a little sooner than expected.

Fall is on its way, then come the holidays. After that comes that most dreaded time of the year: the height of flu season.

We all know that one-of-a-kind Flo did some serious damage to Beaufort and surrounding counties a mere two weeks ago. Flu, however, does serious damage every year. It has the power to drain schools to a 25-percent attendance rate on a given day — easy to do if everyone is sick. It can empty the desks in an office, and productivity grinds to a halt. More important, flu can send you to the hospital. And maybe to an early grave.

Last year, more than 80,000 people in the U.S. died — yes, died — from flu. Another 900,000 ended up in the hospital because of the flu. Those numbers surprised quite a few health officials, as they’re usually a lot lower: 12,000 to 56,000 deaths and 250,000 to 700,000 hospitalizations. But last year, the flu season was long and many regions broke out with the virus simultaneously.

The more exposure, the more it spreads. Flu doesn’t just occur. Someone passes the virus to someone else, then that person shares the gift of flu with the next person, and the next.

While there are some measures a person can take to avoid flu there’s no better way than getting a flu shot. The vaccine will make sure if a particular brand of flu comes calling it, it will be turned away. No, it’s not a sure thing, but the science behind it is one of probabilities — what strains will be most prevalent this flu season.

The Beaufort County Health Department is ahead of the game this year. The agency is offering flu shots next Wednesday at Beaufort County Community College’s Building 10 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. People are asked to bring their insurance card, cash or check for payment: $35 for the regular dose; $65 for the high dose. Coffee and donuts come with both.

Do yourself a favor and make a pledge to protect yourself and the ones you love from flu this year. It’d be a shame to have another record-breaking year.