ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Hospitals across the country were packed with flu patients last year and doctors are hoping to avoid a repeat.
The CDC reported more than 170 flu-related deaths for children just for last flu season.
Collectively, thousands of Americans died. And last year it was seemingly healthy people who suddenly became dangerously ill.
Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is taking just a few minutes out of your day to get the shot.
It does take about two weeks for the shot to become effective so the sooner you do it, the better; it lasts throughout the entire flu season.
This year experts have worked to determine the best flu shot strain combination.
It will protect against two strains of A and two of strains of B.
“A lot of experts believe that even if it isn’t a perfect match, that the immune system is stimulated in a way that we might catch the flu, but there’s a good chance that the severity will be diminished and the duration will be diminished,” explained Dr. Charles Ruis, Health Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Southwest District.
Ruis said it’s especially important for babies six months and older, the elderly, and those with immune deficiencies to get vaccinated. That’s because these people are most susceptible to contracting the illness.
“The flu vaccine is the best way to avoid the flu, but it only lasts a year. So each year we need to go back and get that flu shot,” stated Ruis.
And as to where to go, the options are seemingly endless.
There’s your primary healthcare doctor, urgent care, and many national drug store chains such as CVS and Walgreens.
If you have health insurance, you're most likely going to be able to get the vaccine for free or a discounted rate.
Right now Georgia public health departments are offering the vaccine for free for those with health insurance, medicare or medicaid.
If you do not have any of those you won’t be turned away. You can still get the flu shot, but it will cost $30 for people under the age of 65, and $50 if you’re 65 or older.