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Its not too late for your flu shot
CDC predicting harsher season for virus this year
Registered Nurse Beth Cassady draws a flu vaccine at the Hall County Health Department. - photo by Tom Reed

Hall County Health Department flu shots

When: 8-11 a.m., 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays; 8-11 a.m., 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays; 8-11 a.m. Fridays

Where: 1290 Athens St., Gainesville

More information: 770-531-5600

It’s flu season again, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict a possible increase in flu activity over recent years.

But for those who have not been vaccinated for the flu this season, there’s still time to help your body protect itself from the virus.

“If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, now would be a good time to get it,” said Dave Palmer, public information officer with the Hall County Health Department. “After you get the shot, it takes a few weeks for your body to build up immunity, but it’s not too late to get it.”

The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older get vaccinated as soon as the shot becomes available each year. Some providers began offering the vaccine as early as September.

Those at a higher risk for flu-related complications — pregnant women, anyone ages 50 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, nursing home residents, children under age 5 and those who care for people who may be more at risk — should especially consider being vaccinated.

Palmer said that while flu season in Georgia usually lasts from October to May, cases tend to peak in January and February, with an increase in patients showing flu-like symptoms appearing around late December.

“But this has started happening earlier than what we normally see so far this year,” he added.

While the flu shot does not guarantee total immunity, it does lower your chances of catching the virus. And if you do still get the flu after being vaccinated, the symptoms are typically less severe.

“We often hear people say they won’t take the flu shot because they took it one time and got the flu, but that’s a myth,” said Palmer. “The flu shot cannot give you the flu because it’s made from an inactive virus. But if you’re exposed to the flu before you get the shot, you could experience the symptoms as the shot builds up in your body.”

Palmer explained the flu virus as having three types: A, B and C. While there is no vaccine for C, the flu shot covers two A viruses and one B virus every year, depending on what strains scientists have seen circulating most over the year.

“The CDC has said the vaccine is a good match this year. The viruses that are circulating are matched well by the vaccine,” he said.

Many area pharmacies and physicians offer the flu shot, as well as the Hall County Health Department.

Palmer also encouraged the public to take other measures to keep from getting the flu and spreading it to others.

“Stay home if you’re sick, wash your hands and make sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze,” he said.