Flu Is Hitting Hard

Health officials in Georgia are worried about your health after a flu vaccine shortage and another flu-related death.

Coweta County coroner Richard Hawk says that a 15-year old girl also died just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning. He says that the girl was a healthy teenager before she caught the flu.

The death of this 15-year-old brings the total number of flu-related deaths in georgia to 26. Georgia Department of Public Health Communications director Nancy Nydam says that most of the people who died were fifty or older.

Pregnant women, the elderly, kids younger than five, diabetics, and people with lung and heart problems are at the highest risk.

Nydam says that the flu vaccine is usually about 40-60 percent effective. This season’s vaccine is only about 30 percent effective against this H3N2 strain.

That number might not sound encouraging, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to skip the shot. Flu season still hasn’t reached its peak yet.

“The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu,” Nydam says. “It’s not too late. if you haven’t gotten a vaccine yet, get it now.”

CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases press officer Ian Branam says that there are preventative treatment options, even after getting sick. Doctors might use antiviral medications to knock the flu out faster.

“When antiviral treatment is started within two days of becoming sick with flu symptoms, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by about one day,” Branam said in a

statement. “They may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, and pneumonia and hospitalizations in adults.”

Here are the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s top tips to stay healthy during flu season:

· Get the flu shot. If your pharmacy is running low on the vaccine, call around to other pharmacies in your area.

· Wash hands with soap and warm water.

· Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

· Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.

· Stay home if you feel sick.

· Go to the doctor if you’ve been taking cold medicine for two days and aren’t feeling better.

By Noelle Lashley

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