The state of Georgia is now in the midst of a flu epidemic, and local health officials are urging the public to get flu shots if they haven't already.
The flu is hitting Georgia harder this year than it has in nearly a decade, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. 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,” said 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 travelling.
Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary person to person
Flu shots are still available at North Georgia Health District health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties, according to Jennifer King, a spokeswoman for the North Georgia Health District. “We urge residents who have not yet received a flu shot to do so immediately.”
Health officials say there is plenty of supply for the vaccine statewide.
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 duration, Georgia Department of Public Health officials said.
Other tips for preventing sickness from the flu include: frequent and thorough hand washing with warm water and soap; alcohol-based gels if you don’t have access to soap and water; covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu; using a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of the elbow or arm; and avoiding touching your face, as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes. Those who are sick should 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 school.
Those caring for a sick individual at home should keep them away from other people as much as possible and from common areas of the house.
Information on the North Georgia Health District offices in Cherokee are listed below:
1219 Univeter Road
Canton, GA 30115
7545 North Main St, Suite 100
Woodstock, GA 30188
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday - 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday - 7:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday - 7:30 AM - 1:00 PM