When Susan Hutchens saw the newspaper article Wednesday about 10 flu cases at University Hospital, she told her son Jason to meet her at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Bobby Jones Expressway as soon as he got out of class at Georgia Regents University.
“It’s cheaper to do this than make a doctor’s appointment,” she said as she wrote a check to the Columbia County Health Department while Jason was getting stuck in the arm.
The article also got the attention of Martha Kesler, 72, of Martinez, who could get the shot free later as a volunteer at Doctors Hospital but decided not to wait.
“I said, I better get over there now,” she said after she got the high-dose shot for those over age 65.
By 3 p.m., the flu shot clinic had already seen at least 70 people.
“We’ve had a good turnout here,” said Columbia County nurse manager Linda Graves.
University officials got the word out about the early arrival of flu in Augusta in part to spur people to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. But there should be plenty of vaccine throughout the season – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there will be between 135 million and 139 million vaccine doses manufactured this year.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months get the vaccine, “ideally by October.”
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to form sufficient antibodies against the flu strains expected for this year. For this flu season, that would be pandemic influenza AH1N1/California 2009, influenza A H3N2/Victoria 2011 and influenza B/Massachusetts 2012 strains, according to the CDC.
Visits for influenza-like illness remained low in the last CDC surveillance through Sept, 14 at .9 percent of patients.