Don’t Let The Flu Catch Up To You:
Georgia Dept. of Public Health Encourages Yearly Flu Shot
North Georgia – The holidays are almost here, and that means family gatherings and holiday parties where people tend to be in close personal contact. Don’t bring flu to the festivities. National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 3-9, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) encourages all Georgians to get their flu vaccine. The flu shot is the best protection against the flu.
“Flu season is here until possibly as late as May, and we anticipate an active flu season this year,” said Sherry Gregory, RN, Infectious Disease Supervisor of the North Georgia Health District, based in Dalton. “It’s important that North Georgians understand the best way to protect against influenza is to receive an annual flu vaccine. As long as the virus is circulating, it’s never too late to vaccinate.”
Influenza can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. On average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections. Regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity, anyone can get sick from the flu. Those especially at risk are adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions. Preventive actions such as simply washing hands and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing can guard against the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine is more convenient than ever. Public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties have flu vaccine for people of all ages, including pediatric and quadrivalent vaccine as well as Fluzone High Dose for people 65 years old and older. Log onto nghd.org to find these North Georgia Health District county health departments’ contact information by clicking the LOCATIONS tab at top of the home page. Many physicians, pharmacies, employers, schools, colleges and universities also offer flu vaccines. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2017-2018 flu season.
National Influenza Vaccination Week emphasizes the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu. So be wise and get immunized against the flu. For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-what-you-need-know.
ATLANTA – If you have not gotten a flu shot yet, do not wait any longer! Flu is widespread in Georgia, and more than 300 individuals have been hospitalized with flu-related illness. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed four flu-related deaths so far, but that number is expected to increase.
The predominant strain of flu circulating in Georgia and around the country is influenza A (H3N2). This strain can be particularly hard on the very young, people over age 65, or those with existing medical conditions. H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year’s flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.
“It is not too late to get a flu shot,” says J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH commissioner. “Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine – not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications.”
Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, and can include fever, cough,
sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you have
the flu, call or visit your doctor.
In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend the use of antivirals such as Tamiflu or Relenza. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, an inhaled powder or an intravenous solution) that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. Antivirals are used to treat those at high-risk for flu complications – young children, the elderly, individuals with underlying medical conditions and women who are pregnant. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs.
There are other things you can do to help prevent the spread of flu – tried and true measures your mother taught you:
• Frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and warm water.
Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if you don’t have access
to soap and water;
• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help
prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the
crook of your elbow or arm;
• Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through
mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes; and
• If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should
be free of a fever, without the use of a fever reducer, for at least 24
hours before returning to school or work.
If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible. If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and the bathroom once a day with household disinfectant. Thoroughly clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person before re-using. To learn more about influenza, log on to www.flu.gov.
About the Georgia Department of Public Health:
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability, promoting health and well-being, and preparing for and responding to disasters. DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory.
For more information about DPH, visit www.dph.ga.gov.
North Georgia – Ready to quit? You can do it for at least one day this Thursday, November 16th during the Great American Smokeout®! Every year on the third Thursday of November, many Georgians join tobacco users across the nation in giving up using tobacco and electronic cigarettes for the entire day during this Great American Smokeout® event, initiated by the American Cancer Society. Quitting for just one day is an important step toward a healthier you, especially if that one day can lead to many more.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. Over 11,500 Georgians die each year from tobacco-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Quitting tobacco and eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke are two proven ways to decrease the risk of tobacco related death and disability.
The Georgia Smokefree Air Act, passed in 2005, has reduced exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all enclosed facilities, including buildings owned, leased, or operated by the State or local governing authorities.
Now, it’s your turn to reduce tobacco-related health hazards by quitting the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes during the Great American Smokeout®.
Here in Georgia, we can help. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line is a free resource that can help tobacco users reach their goal of quitting. The Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP; Spanish speakers call 1-877-2NO-FUME; TTY: 1-877-777-6534 for the hearing impaired) provides counseling for Georgia tobacco users ages 13 and older. Callers speak with tobacco cessation counselors who help to develop a unique quitting plan for each person.
North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counites, Drug Free Cherokee, Cherokee Focus, and the Cherokee Youth Council encourage Georgians to go tobacco-free during the Great American Smokeout®, and beyond!