ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to get vaccinated against flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu, so it’s important to take preventive measures now.
“The single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine. Every healthy individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine, unless there are underlying medical conditions. In those cases, patients should consult their physician,” said Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Health. “The holidays bring gatherings with family and friends and increase the likelihood of spreading the flu. Now is the time to get vaccinated.”
Even if the vaccine is not a perfect match, it can still help lessen the severity and length of flu symptoms if you do get sick, according to Dr. O’Neal.
Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills and fatigue. One of the most pronounced flu symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and malaise that comes on quickly.
There are other things you can do to help protect against flu, including:
- Frequent and thorough hand-washing. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water.
- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or arm.
- Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.
- If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of fever without the use of a fever reducer for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.
If you do get sick and think you may have the flu, contact your health care provider right away. There are medications that can be used to treat flu but they are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.