What families should know to avoid the flu
Flu season started in October, and many Georgians are gearing up to get their influenza vaccines. Last year was one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, with 28 deaths and more than 1,400 flu-related hospitalizations, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Every flu season is different, and influenza infection often affects each individual differently. The vaccine works by causing antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against flu.
“Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccination annually,” said J. Dean Greeson, M.D., the senior vice president and chief medical officer of the Peach State Health Plan. “High-risk groups including young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more likely to get severely ill or hospitalized from the flu.”
Greeson shares three major ways to fend off the flu:
• Get vaccinated. Many people put off getting a flu shot, but it is a vitally important defense against the flu. Different flu shots are approved for people of different ages. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza page to get an idea of what’s recommended for you and your family.
• Wash your hands. This may seem obvious, but handwashing is one of the most effective ways to remove germs and stop them from spreading. It’s important to lather up and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and underneath your nails. Don’t have soap and water handy? Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Take antiviral medication if you’re exposed to the flu. Antiviral medications are prescription pills, liquids or inhalers used to prevent or treat flu viruses. Available by prescription, they are approved for adults and children 1 year and older.
For more information on Peach State Health Plan, go to www.pshp.com