Georgia's first confirmed case of influenza (the flu) was reported in December, a full month earlier than last season.
On average, three Georgians die every day from the flu or pneumonia, but those deaths can be prevented by a simple vaccine. And it's not too late to get vaccinated, according to Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H, director of the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health.
"The flu season has just begun in Georgia, so there is still time to get vaccinated and get protected from the flu," said Toomey. "People develop peak immunity to the flu about two weeks after getting the shot. So the sooner people get vaccinated, the better."
A mild case of flu can get worse. And even a mild case means lost time from work and a few very unpleasant days. Anyone who has not yet received the 2002-2003 flu vaccine and who is at high risk for complications from influenza should request a shot as soon as possible. The vaccine is available across the state, and most of Georgia's health departments have the vaccine.
The Georgia Public Health Laboratory has reported that a sample submitted by a metro Atlanta hospital tested positive for influenza A. This year's vaccine protects against both influenza A and B.
Groups at high risk for complications from influenza include people who are 50 years of age and older; those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease and immunosuppression; people living in long-term care facilities; and women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. People who live or work with high-risk individuals could spread the flu to those persons and should also be vaccinated. Children who are less than 9 years old who are getting the vaccine for the first time need a booster one month later.
For flu shots, contact your healthcare provider or county health department. For more information about influenza and other immunizations, see www.ph.dhr.state.ga.us/programs/immunization/flu.shtml.
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Contact: Barbara Joye
DHR Office of Communications