The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging people not to wait to get the flu shot.
Flu is widespread in Georgia, and more than three hundred 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 Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the flu is now widespread in 46 states- nearly four times more states when compared to this time last year.
Making matters worse is the strand that is circulating- H3N2. It tends to hit young and people over the age of 65 harder than others.
Standard flu vaccines don’t work as well on H3N2, but officials say it is better than not getting a shot.
“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.
According to a DPH release, 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.
- 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 reusing.