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With flu season typically spiking in late January, experts say it's not too late to get flu vaccine

The Daily Citizen - 1/7/2019

Jan. 07--Midway through the flu season, Georgia has some of the highest flu activity in the nation, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC's latest flu activity map, for the week ended Dec. 22, lists flu as "widespread" in the Peach State.

The latest report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, also for the week ended Dec. 22, shows four reported flu deaths in the state, 15 outbreaks and 306 hospitalizations in the state's metro areas for flu since Sept. 30.

Flu season typically begins in October and runs through March but can continue as late as May. It typically peaks in late January.

Hamilton Medical Center Infection Prevention Director Perri Correll said that locally flu activity through the end of December wasn't as bad as it was in the same period in 2017.

"We had 92 people test positive for flu (in 2017)," she said. "For that same time period (in 2018), we only had 39 cases of flu."

But Correll notes that in the last flu season cases really spiked in January.

"We were seeing as many as 20 cases a day. We had visitor restrictions because it was so bad," she said.

That's why experts are recommending that those who haven't gotten a flu vaccine yet get one.

"That's so important," said Jennifer King, public information officer for the North Georgia Health District.

It typically takes about two weeks after the vaccination for the flu antibodies to develop.

"That means if you get the vaccine today, it would kick in just as the flu season peaks and provide protection through the rest of the flu season," said King.

Correll said flu vaccine is still available at Hamilton's convenient care clinic, and King said both the Whitfield County and Murray County health departments still have flu vaccine.

Experts recommend that those who have flu-like symptoms do their best to avoid going out and exposing others to illness and that people do their best to avoid those who are sick.

"Obviously, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently can help stop the spread of disease," said Correll.

Correll said that when soap and water aren't available, alcohol-based hand rubs are effective.

"You should also avoid touching your face," said King. "Touching your eyes and nose and mouth can spread the flu."


(c)2019 The Daily Citizen (Dalton, Ga.)

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