The flu has hit early and hard this season in Georgia.
Flu season doesn't typically begin until February. According to Google Flu Trends, the current flu season in the Atlanta-area is "intense."
“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in the Influenza Division of the Centers for Disease Control. “Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons."
Fulton and DeKalb health officials recommend influenza vaccination for people who have not yet been vaccinated this season and antiviral treatment as early as possible for people who get sick and are at high risk of flu complications. Both counties offer flu shots at several locations.
In Fulton County, the closest health department locations to get a flu shot are:
- Center for Health and Rehabilitation - 265 Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, 404-612-5835
- Neighborhood Union Health Center - 186 Sunset Ave., Atlanta, 404-612-4665
Vaccines are available from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. through the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness.
Residents can get the flu shot or the nasal mist (age 2 to 49 years) for $25. Visa and MasterCard (credit and debit), Medicaid, Cigna, United Health Care and cash are accepted forms of payment.
In DeKalb County, flu vaccinations are available on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The closest locations are:
- T.O. Vinson Health Center, 440 Winn Way,Decatur, 404-294-3762.
- Refugee Health Services, Richardson Health Center, 445 Winn Way, Decatur, 404-294-3818.
- Clifton Springs Health Center, 3110 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur, 404-244-2200.
The DeKalb County Board of Health’s fees are $20 for the flu vaccine and $40 for the Fluzone high dose.
DeKalb officials say the Fluzone high-dose creates a stronger immune response in people 65 years and older than the standard vaccine.
Health officials are warning that people who do not get a flu vaccine are taking two significant risks: They are placing themselves at risk for a potentially long and serious illness; and they are placing others, especially young children, adults 50 and older and persons with chronic medical conditions at risk.
The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site.
Patch reached out to Gwinnett Medical Center for their top tips on how to get through this intense flu season. Here's what Eve Early, manager of Infection Control at the hospital, recommended:
- Take time to get the flu vaccine. October to March is the official flu season. Everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to be vaccinated. Call ahead to check since shortages have been reported.
- Be alert to flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, sore throat, aches and fever. Stay home if you experience any of these symptoms. It’s especially important to not visit the hospital.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue isn’t available, use the crease of your elbow to cover your mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wear a mask if you have the cold or flu to help prevent the spread.
Read more about the current flu outbreak at the CDC website.
Do you have your own tips for surviving flu season? Tell us in the comments section below.