National flu vaccination week

by | November 29, 2006 12:00 am

In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health is reminding Georgians that it is not too late to get vaccinated to protect against seasonal influenza, or “flu.” Anyone that wants to reduce their risk of catching the flu should be vaccinated, especially those at highest risk of dangerous complications: persons over the age of 50, young children under the age of five, and anyone with chronic health issues such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes.

“Now is a great time for everyone who hasn’t received a flu shot yet to go get one,” said Dr. Stuart Brown, the Director of the Georgia Division of Public Health. “In addition to this week being National Influenza Vaccination Week, last week’s lab confirmation of the presence of influenza in Georgia is just one more reason individuals should get vaccinated sooner rather than later.”

Flu season does not typically peak in Georgia till January or February, and therefore getting vaccinated

in late November or December can still provide protection against the flu. Individuals should be aware that the vaccine typically takes about 2 weeks after receiving it to begin protecting against the flu virus. Additionally, the flu shot contains inactivated virus, and therefore cannot make you sick.

“While getting vaccinated is the single best way to prevent getting the flu, other ways to reduce your risk are by consistently washing your hands and keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Putting your hands to these areas of the face can give any virus that may be on your hands an entry way into your body,” stated Dr. Brown.

Health officials also recommend that ill persons should stay at home, cover coughs and sneezes, and practice good hand-washing to avoid spreading viral illnesses to others.

All counties in Georgia have received flu vaccine, and although shipping delays affected arrival in some parts, it is currently available throughout the state. By the end of December,

it is expected that there will be approximately 110 – 115 million doses of vaccine delivered nationwide – – more than has ever been distributed. People can contact their local public health department, private practitioner, grocery store or pharmacy to inquire about availability and cost of vaccine in their area.

Influenza is a respiratory illness characterized by high fever (102 degrees or greater), muscle aches, headache, sore throat, and dry cough, that can last from a few days to over a week. Children can also experience gastrointestinal symptoms with flu, including diarrhea and vomiting. Although most people survive influenza illness without incident, the elderly, infants and children, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are most prone to complications from flu, most notably pneumonia. Approximately 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized as a result of influenza each year in the U.S. For an overview of flu activity in the U.S., visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ weekly/fluactivity.htm.

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