Thomas Large said Tamiflu is the only medication available to treat the flu once it has been contracted. And Tamiflu is only effective if it’s administered within the first two days after flu symptoms begin.
“Tamiflu attacks the virus and keeps it from spreading,” said Large, who has been a pharmacist for 40 years.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the flu is hitting Georgia earlier and harder this year. Large said the best medicine is prevention, which means getting an annual flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control still considers Georgia’s flu levels moderate, but officials at the CDC say nationally this year’s flu season is hitting earlier than it has in almost a decade.
Tanner Health System is requiring all clinical and nonclinical staff, as well as volunteers and students involved with the health system, to get the flu vaccination this year.
Tony Montcalm, communications coordinator for Tanner, said almost 100 percent of the health system’s staff has now received the vaccination, with more employee vaccination dates upcoming.
Large has administered roughly 10 flu shots so far at his pharmacy in downtown Villa Rica. He said most people get their vaccinations from their primary care physicians.
The state Department of Public Health is predicting an extra-long flu season. Peak flu season usually runs from the end of January until late February or early March, according to the department.
“The vaccine is working especially good this year because it just so happens – you know they always try to prepare the vaccine for what virus might be out there – and sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t,” said Large. “But this year they hit it right on.”
One reason Large said people avoid getting the flu shot is the fear that the shot will give them the flu rather than prevent it, which is a myth, he said, because the vaccination is a dead virus.
“Just about anybody that gets a vaccination sometimes feels a little bit bad from it, but you don’t have to worry about getting the flu from the shot,” Large said.
Large said the vaccination not only protects against the flu but a range of viruses, including some variations of the common cold.
“Gosh, for $20 or whatever it costs. ... That’s cheap insurance to not get sick,” he said.