By Natalie Simms
Flu season is back as are recommended vaccinations but there’s a twist this season.
Local health officials have seen a few cases in recent weeks but nothing widespread. “Each flu season is different and we never know how to characterize one until we’re looking at it in the rear-view mirror,” says Logan Boss, Communications Director of Northwest Georgia Public Health. “Flu season in Georgia typically begins in October, runs into the following spring, and can last as late as May. Flu season in Georgia historically peaks in early February, but some years it peaks earlier, some years later.
“The most recent influenza-like illness intensity indicator for Georgia was minimal … another indicator that shows how widespread influenza is across the state, was sporadic… both indicators are same as they were this time last year.”
Harbin Clinic Immediate Care reports “a few cases of the flu but nothing to be alarmed about.”
Harbin Clinic and health departments in Floyd, Polk, Gordon and Bartow have been administering the flu vaccine to patients since September. If you are a Harbin patient and still need a flu shot, you can schedule an appointment with your physician. The Floyd County Health Department also offers vaccines on a walk-in basis. Details
Several local pharmacies also give flu shots and are offering different incentives to get you in the door. At Publix Pharmacy, both Rome and Cartersville locations, you can receive a free $10 Publix gift card when you get your flu shot at their pharmacy. Click here for details
But if you’re feeling extra generous, get your shot at Kroger. For every flu shot administered at Kroger Pharmacy and The Little Clinic locations, a meal will be donated to Feeding America to help families in need.
“Flu shots are administered at all Kroger Pharmacy and The Little Clinic locations during all hours of operation, seven days per week, and no appointment needed. The cash price for quadrivalent flu shots is $40 and $60 for high dose flu shots for those 65 and older. All major insurances and Medicare Part B are accepted and most copays are $0,” says Felix Turner, Corporate Affairs manager with Kroger Atlanta Division. Details
“The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. If you haven’t already gotten one this flu season, drop what you’re doing and do so now. Also, try to maintain a strong immune system by eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising,” says Boss.
Who is most at risk?
“Flu can kill people, even healthy adults, and it’s especially dangerous for people who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu,” says Boss. “It is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from flu.”
Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for these groups of people:
- children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years,
- adults 65 years of age and older,
- pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum,
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and
- people who have underlying medical conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Aside from the vaccine Public Health recommends these everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- See a doctor to get a prescription for antiviral drugs if deemed appropriate. Remember, antiviral drugs are most effective within one or two days of symptoms appearing.
“Symptoms typically start one to four days after the influenza virus enters the body, and people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins. However, you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick,” says Boss.
“Most adults can infect others beginning one day before their own symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others with flu viruses for an even longer time.”
Is it flu or cold?
Sometimes is can be hard to tell if your symptoms signal the flu or a cold. Boss says, “The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly.”
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish with chills, but it’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
It’s important to keep an eye on worsening symptoms and seek medical care. For more information about seasonal influenza and flu vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm