A co-worker calls in sick Monday. Another calls Tuesday. By the end of the week, it feels like sickness has wiped out your whole office.
It’s that time of year.
And if it’s not in the office, it’s at your kids’ school or day care, and all the antibacterial gel you can stand can’t seem to keep it at bay.
That stomach bug or cold will get you down for a day or two, but if that sickness is flu, it could be a lot more serious. Health officials warn that flu can sometimes lead to hospitalization and even death.
Their biggest piece of advice? Get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, but especially children, pregnant women, those older than 65 and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. And though young infants can’t be vaccinated, caregivers can help protect them by getting vaccinated themselves.
The Public Health office at 1280 Athens St. in Gainesville has dispensed 919 shots already this season and 133 doses of nasal mist.
District 2 Public Health has also offered drive-thru vaccines at some offices outside Hall County.
Dave Palmer with the health department said that’s helped those with mobility issues getting in and out of the car.
“We also go out to some businesses and give flu shots and then several of our counties do the school-based clinics,” he said.
Scottie Barton, owner of Riverside Pharmacy in Gainesville, said his business typically does 500 to 600 vaccines each year.
“Of course we started back in early September and are still going strong right now,” he said.
Some who get the vaccine, which is essentially a dead virus, may experience some flu symptoms as their body builds antibodies against the flu, but that’s a natural response, Barton said.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes even diarrhea and vomiting or respiratory symptoms and no fever, according to a news release from the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
For those who skip their shot and contract the flu or get a different flu strain that the one included in the vaccine, there are a few steps you can take.
It’s best to get antiviral drugs within two days, though starting them later may still help, according to the hospital.
Antiviral drugs, prescribed by a doctor, can lessen the symptoms, shorten the duration of the flu and prevent serious complications.
You also should take precautions to avoid the spread of the flu. As always, avoid close contact with others, wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated. Also, stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, beyond taking fever-reducing medications.