ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Have you received your flu shot yet? Health officials say if you haven't, get in line. In the last few weeks the number of flu cases have soared, the contagious virus has already claimed the life of one person in southwest Georgia.
We are officially in flu season, the weather is changing and our immune system is becoming vulnerable to viruses. That's why health officials want you to tackle the problem now.
According to a study from the CDC, from 2010 to 2012 flu vaccinations helped reduce a child's risk from entering a pediatric ICU from a flu-related illness by 74%.
As for adults during that time frame, it reduced flu-related hospitalizations by 71%.
Health officials say by combining vaccinations with good cough, sneeze and hand washing etiquette, it can reduce the chance of an illness from spreading.
If you do become sick, it may take a couple of days for you to develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, stuffy or runny nose, however, these symptoms may become mild if you previously were vaccinated.
Flu shots are also connected to help those with chronic health issues, lowering rates of cardiac events for those with heart disease.
Antiviral drugs is an additional source to treat the illness but it is not a substitute for the flu shot.
"Last year in the state of Georgia we had 46 confirmed influenza related deaths. It is kind of what we see year to year in our state," Southwest Georgia Public Health Epidemiologist Jacqueline Jenkins said.
The CDC says nationwide less than 50% of people get vaccinated each year.
Children and older people are at a higher risk of having severe complications if they are diagnosed with the flu. You can walk into your local pharmacy and get your shot today, typically no appointment is necessary.