Doctors in central Virginia are preparing for the holiday season to usher in a flourishing flu season. The virus is blamed for one death already at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Pharmacist Leigh Schiebel's flu shot supply is the front line of defense against the bug for customers at Timberlake's Drug Store in downtown Charlottesville.
"When we first got it in the middle of October, I had a lot of people coming in. But usually we have a person or two every day," said Schiebel.
The Virginia Department of Health reports vaccination rates are falling short this season in the fight against the flu.
"It takes a couple weeks for it to get effective, so if you wait until it hits, then it's too late," said Schiebel.
The number of confirmed flu cases statewide has been lower the past few weeks compared to last year. Eight of UVA's 11 confirmed flu cases this season have led to patients being admitted to the hospital.
Martha Jefferson Hospital has only confirmed two cases.
"It's present. It just hasn't become in epidemic proportions," said Dr. Steven McAlpine, ER physician at Martha Jefferson Hospital.
McAlpine expects an influx of flu cases when college students and traveling families return from holiday gatherings.
"All of the students go worldwide home, capture what they have, bring it back to us and share it," said McAlpine.
McAlpine prescribes some common sense during festivities with family and friends.
"Strict hand washing, being conscious if you contact something you're contagious," said McAlpine.
Flu season typically peaks in February in Virginia. The Virginia Health Department reports it is beginning to see cases of the highly contagious and debilitating norovirus stomach bug.