With the fall season also comes the flu season.
Even if you’ve had the flu before, chances are you’re not immune to all the influenza viruses. So it’s important to take precautions to protect you and your family this year.
As of now, there hasn’t been much flu activity in Georgia, according to Dr. Robin Dretler Infectious Disease specialist at . He says in Georgia the season usually starts closer to December and lasts through February.
“In September there was some sporadic activity in Decatur. But it's early so we haven't seen a lot lately here,” Dretler said.
However, that doesn’t mean the season will be mild. So being prepared is the best defense.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot. While there are many flu viruses, only three strains are chosen to go into the flu shot. This year the flu vaccine protects against the H1N1 (type A), H3N2 (type A) and a type B influenza.
Many people don’t get flu shots because they think it will actually give them the flu.
Dretler stresses that this is not true and he feels the flu shot is the best form of protection. As chief of staff at DeKalb Medical he is requiring that all of his employees get vaccinated free of charge.
“We owe it to our patients to protect them as well as our employees,” Dretler said. “The vaccine is very safe and moderately effective.”
A recent study posted in The Lancet states that the most commonly used flu vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 59 percent for adults ages 18 to 65 and that the flu mist is about 83 percent effective in children ages 6 months to 7 years. Despite its varying effectiveness Dretler says the vaccine is the best thing we’ve got.
And he points out that, once you have the flu, using drugs such as Tamiflu may not be helpful for treatment since some flu viruses are becoming resistant to drugs.
There are other easy things you can do to help stop the spread of viruses.
- Remember to wash your hands or use an alcohol hand sanitizer.
- Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cover your mouth with your sleeve.
- Try to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing.
These small steps can make a big difference.
Flu vaccines are available at most Decatur area pharmacies, and the offers them on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
If you would like to have an on-site flu clinic, the DeKalb County Board of Health will come to your place of work, worship or civic gathering, as long as there are 10 or more people.