Former U.S. Surgeon General gives insight into flu epidemic


Coast to coast, this flu season has become one of the worst and most costly in years. It's estimated over 12-million people across the United States have the flu.

This year's strain is dangerously aggressive, already claiming the lives of 30 children including a third grader in Alabama.

Today, NBC 15's Nicole Fierro spoke with a woman who has unique insight into this illness, former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.

As America’s doctor, Regina Benjamin tracked flu for our entire nation. Now, the Baldwin county native continues to do so from her clinic in Bayou La Batre, telling NBC 15 this is unlike anything she’s seen before.

United States 18th Surgeon General says we're being attacked by a flu season, so severe, it's making history.

“49 out of 50 states right now have flu outbreaks,” Benjamin said, adding “We have never seen that many at one time. You see it move across the country or whatever but this is the entire country. So yes, this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

The fight is tough and far from over. With three months left in the season, Benjamin says, now is the time to take action as a nation, state and even as local community members.

“We need to make sure we do talk about getting our vaccinations, not just children’s vaccinations, but adult vaccinations as well. Also, don't take it for granted. It’s not too late.”

For some discouraged by this year's flu shot success rates, experts reporting the shot 10 to 30 percent effective, America's former doctor says it's still having a lifesaving effect for many.

“Well it's effective, it's not as effective against this particular strain, but it does protect you from having other strains,” Benjamin said, adding “You can get different strains of the flu at the same time. You don't want to get two strains but it does offer some protection and some protection is better than none.”

At home, it's the simple acts of hand washing and hydrating this expert in national health swears by.

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