Health officials encouraging residents to get flu shots - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Health officials encourage residents to get flu shots

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Dr. William Grow Dr. William Grow
Courtney Sheeley Courtney Sheeley
A vile of the flu vaccine at the Lowndes County Health Department A vile of the flu vaccine at the Lowndes County Health Department
The building in which the Lowndes County Health Department is located and where residents can go to receive their flu vaccine The building in which the Lowndes County Health Department is located and where residents can go to receive their flu vaccine
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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Of all the things on your Christmas wish list, the flu probably isn't one of them.

But some local doctors are starting to see cases of the flu, so if you haven't already gotten your flu shot this season you may want to make that one of your top priorities.

"The optimal time would've probably been at the beginning of the [flu] season, September or October. But, it's not too late to get it now. We are beginning to see, in Georgia, outbreaks of the flu," said Dr. William Grow, Lowndes County District Health Director.

Grow emphasized that vaccines are readily available and are key to helping prevent the flu.

"Vaccines are available all over, widely available, [at] the health department certainly. Other places, of course, pharmacies throughout the area, doctor's offices throughout the area...prevention is the magic word here and that's why you get a flu shot," said Grow.

Flu symptoms sometimes don't show up for 24-48 hours after a person gets the flu. This makes it harder to know if someone has the flu, which means there's a greater risk of spreading the flu...especially around the holidays, with all of the parties and social gatherings.

"Absolutely," Grow said, "it's a very, very highly contagious respiratory disease and therefore, when you have people around people, you're going to spread it more."

Lowndes County Health Department's Public Information Officer Courtney Sheeley stressed the importance of staying home and avoiding the public if you do start to develop flu-like symptoms.

"It is very important not to go out and be in the community if you're sick," Sheeley said.

Simple things such as washing your hands often and covering your cough can help stop the spread of the flu, but both Grow and Sheeley made it clear that a flu shot is still the best, and most important, method for avoiding the flu.

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