GA Department of Public Health Officials
Urge Georgians To Get Flu Shots
ATLANTA – The state of Georgia is now in the midst of a flu epidemic.
The flu is hitting Georgia harder this year than it has in nearly a
decade. Flu activity is widespread throughout the state and the number
of flu related hospitalizations is high. So far, two adult, flu-related
deaths have been reported in Georgia.
“We are seeing some decrease in flu activity, but we are still at
epidemic level and the flu is unpredictable,” says Patrick O’Neal,
M.D., director of the Division of Health Protection, Georgia Department
of Public Health. “We are getting reports of more severe flu effects
in neighboring states, including the number of deaths. Peak flu season
typically does not happen until late January or early February so we may
not have seen the worst yet.” The most recent flu report may also be
affected by doctors’ offices being closed for the holidays and people
Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary person to person. If you
think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor. They will advise you
on the best course of treatment.
It is important to take preventative measures now to minimize the
effects of the flu and stay healthy. It is not too late to get a flu
shot! The single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu
vaccine and there is plenty of vaccine available statewide. Every
healthy individual over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine.
The predominant strain of flu circulating in Georgia and around the
country is H3N2. This year’s vaccine is a close match making it
effective in preventing the flu or minimizing its symptoms and
There are other things you can do to help keep yourself from getting
sick. Frequent and thorough hand washing with warm water and soap will
help protect you from the flu. Alcohol based gels are the next best
thing if you don’t have access to soap and water. Cover the 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 the elbow or arm.
Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through
mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes. 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 work or
If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from
other people as much as possible. Keep the sick person away from common
areas of the house and 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. No one should
visit the sick person other than the caregiver. Clean linens, eating
utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing.
You do not n
eed to wash items separately.
To learn more about influenza and the nationwide epidemic go to
www.flu.gov ( http://www.flu.gov/ ).