Prepare for the flu NOW - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prepare for the flu NOW

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The flu season will be here before we know it, so health departments urge you to get a flu shot, soon.

"People don't realize the flu can be serious, it can actually cause you to be hospitalized, so we just want to encourage everybody, and somebody that gets the flu can transmit it to a baby or an older person that has an immune compromised system so we encourage you to try to keep everyone around you safe as well," says Lori Hobbs, Crisp County Health Dept. Nurse Mgr.

You should check with your doctor before getting the flu vaccine if you have an allergy to eggs, if you are sick, or if you have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

The Crisp and Dooly County Health Department and the West Central Health District are monitoring a recent increase in influenza related illnesses in Crisp and Dooly Counties.

They recommend that the public take precautions in order to reduce the chances of getting the flu.

"With what appears to be an early start to this year's flu season, it is important to get your flu shot as soon as possible. This year's flu vaccine supply is now widely available so we encourage you to visit either your personal physician, county health department or other community vaccine provider and get immunized," says Dr. Beverley Townsend, District Health Director.

One of the best ways to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated. It's especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for someone who is at high risk:

1. Pregnant women

2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old

3. People 50 years of age and older

4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions

5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

· Health care workers

· Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu

· Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season normally occurs in the fall and winter. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.

While one of the best ways to prevent the flu is by being vaccinated, there are also some general flu prevention tips that you should practice every day.

· Be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth - germs spread this way.

· Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

· While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

· Wipe/disinfect items handled by a sick person and shared between household members, e.g. phone, TV remote, computer game boards, etc.