Prepare for a tough flu season in Georgia

DEC 09, 2015
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Flu season is nearing its peak in Georgia. The good news is that it’s still not too late to get a shot of protection for what health care professionals say could be a rough year for flu-related illness.


Belkis Pimentel, MD, who heads the Georgia Region’s flu campaign, suggests getting vaccinated to help minimize the chances of you, your loved ones, or others you come in contact with contracting the flu virus. She joins other clinicians in recommending a flu vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older.


The flu vaccine can take up to 2 weeks to become effective. “Being proactive is the best strategy and vaccination is the best defense against what’s become one of the nation’s most common seasonal illnesses,” says Dr. Pimentel, Kaiser Permanente Georgia’s physician director for population health and quality performance. “Fortunately, the window of opportunity is still open.”


With our campaign, Kaiser Permanente is mirroring efforts under way by the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other national health organizations to educate the public about protecting their health during flu season. Georgia’s flu season can last from early October and until May, reaching its peak December through February.


State public health officials predict that this year’s season is likely to be a tough one. Influenza A (H3N2), which historically has resulted in higher rates of hospitalization and deaths, has emerged as the dominant strain and appears to have mutated since the vaccine was produced earlier this year, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.


The flu accounts for thousands of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and deaths annually. Symptoms can include any or all of the following: Fever or feeling feverish, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and, less frequently, vomiting and diarrhea.


The 4 W’s and H of Influenza:

What: Contagious respiratory infection that can result in mild or serious illness and even death

Who: Infects up to 20 percent of the U.S. population annually. Older people, young children, and people with certain illnesses can be especially vulnerable.

Where: Affects nose, throat, and lungs

How: Spread mainly by coming in contact with droplets transmitted through coughing, sneezing, talking, or through touching infected surfaces

When: Carriers can infect others one day before symptoms develop or up to 7 days or longer after becoming ill

Source: CDC, Georgia Department of Public Health



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