Editor, Each year for the past 35 years, the flu has peaked in February. There is no evidence that this season will be any different.
The flu shot takes less than two weeks to produce effective immunity, so if you haven’t had the time for your flu shot yet this season, it’s not too late. We need to ensure the vaccination of as many people as possible over the course of several months as flu seasons vary in terms of length and severity.
Georgia is one of seven states already experiencing a peak in influenza-like activity. We are beginning to see sporadic influenza outbreaks, so the more intense flu season is almost upon us. Our region is experiencing influenza positive tests that have identified the flu species A, B and some H1N1. So far, the species identified are matching the flu vaccine currently available, which means this season’s flu shot will protect you against the three most likely strains of influenza to cause illness this season. That is great news. It means you easily can protect yourself against the flu.
Seasonal influenza, or “the flu,” is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It is spread between people and causes mild-to-severe illness, and can even cause death. About 5 percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized due to flu-related complications.
Uncomplicated influenza illness symptoms last one to two weeks. A person is contagious about one day before they even know they are sick. Frightening? Yes. Preventable? Absolutely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year, as soon as seasonal vaccine is available.
It is here now! Vaccination currently is in progress and will continue until spring. There is still time. It’s not too late. Get vaccinated today.
Most doctors’ offices, pharmacies and urgent care centers are giving flu shots in Hinesville and some are offering a discount.
For more information, talk to your health care provider or visit www.cdc.gov/flu and www.theucconline.com.
— Lori B. Gaylor
Secretary and Past President of the
Georgia Association of Physician Assistants