Though summer hasn't really ended just yet, the flu is already on some people's minds.


According to state Department of Health and Environmental Control Public Information Director Jim Beasley, vaccinations are usually available in early September in South Carolina. Flu season typically begins in October and is active until May. Occurrences of the flu often peak in February.


Beasley said prevention is key in keeping the flu from spreading. Though the vaccine is not always 100 percent effective, it's a good precautionary step to take in effort to keep oneself and others from getting ill, he said.


“Vaccination and preventing illness in the first place is what we're (the health department) all about,” Beasley said.


Beasley said it's better to get the vaccination before the flu becomes too active and not when it's becoming more widespread.


The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccination every year. Anyone with high-risk conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, should get vaccinated as soon as they can before flu season is underway, according to the state health department website.


Flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, muscle aches and at times, signs of upset stomach, according to the health department.


The symptoms become evident at about 48 to 72 hours of contracting the virus.


For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/flu.


Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard.