Flu Cases High in the Southeast

It's National Influenza Vaccination Week, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Flu activity is increasing across the country, especially in the Southeast, but it’s not too late to protect yourself.

Georgia became the first state to report regional flu activity, and Alabama is one of nine states with local activity. Health officials have one idea why.

“We've suddenly had a cold snap, and I think folks are going into the house for the first time. A lot of times that's where you see flu activity begin to flourish," says Jan Largess, the team leader of employee health and wellness at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

The Early County Health Department says the amount of cases this year is significantly higher in southwest Georgia. Sixty percent are children.

You still have time to arm yourself against the flu.

“Absolutely not too late to fight it. It’s a good time to go and get a flu shot if you haven't already had your vaccine,” says Largess.

For the first time, the Center for Disease Control is urging almost everyone to get vaccinated.

“Everyone from 6 months up needs to have a flu shot,” Largess says.

While flu vaccines gamble on which strain of the virus you will see each year, this years should be just the trick.

“The good news is that the vaccine that we’ve distributed this year is right on target for what we’re seeing,” she says.

You should get your shot now because...

“You really need a good two weeks for a guarantee, and they are almost 100 percent effective,” Largess says.

In the meantime you can still stay protected.

“Number one thing is to stay away from someone who appears to have the flu. Then, you would want to wash your hands, and cough into a tissue and get rid of that.”

And perhaps most importantly,

Larges says, “If you are not feeling well a little bit tired, then you probably need to stay out of public areas.”

A flu shot will cost you five dollars at an Alabama health department. They also file Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross, Blue Shield.

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