DPH Employees Roll Up Their Sleeves for the 2014 Seasonal Flu Vaccination Clinic

October 27, 2014

While you’re enjoying the cooler weather and planning your winter vacations, you may want to add one more item to your to-do list – getting the flu shot. This year’s winter season is just now gearing up, but it’s never too early to protect yourself from the influenza virus before flu season peaks in Georgia.     

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season peaks from December to February; however, flu activity can increase throughout the U.S. as early as October. With such a long window of opportunity for contracting the influenza virus, the flu is regarded as one of the nation’s most common illnesses. In fact, CDC data indicates an estimated 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from flu-related health complications. 

With continued public attention on this year’s Ebola outbreak, public health officials anticipate common flu symptoms will be mistaken for developing signs of the disease. The onset of the Ebola virus is quite similar to the flu with symptoms such as a fever, cough and sore throat in its beginning stages. After a few days, the difference between the two viruses becomes more apparent as flu symptoms tend to fade while the Ebola virus begins to impact other parts of the body.  

The potential for misdiagnosed cases and misinformation is a timely reminder for citizens to educate themselves on the differences in how Ebola and the influenza virus are spread, as well as be proactive in protecting themselves against the flu.                                                                         

Minimizing opportunities of contracting the flu during its peak season can be as simple as receiving an annual flu shot, as recommended by the CDC and DPH’s Commissioner, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.

“The single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine. Every healthy individual over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine,” said Fitzgerald. “The holidays are coming and gatherings with family and friends increase the likelihood of spreading the flu. Now is the time to get vaccinated.”

When preventing illnesses like the flu, securing vaccinations in a timely fashion is also of great importance. The CDC encourages all citizens to receive the flu vaccination as early as possible to ensure antibodies that protect against influenza virus infections have developed prior to the peak of flu season.

Last week, DPH employees gathered on the cafeteria level of the 2 Peachtree Street building to receive their flu shots. Coordinated by the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) team, the 2014 Seasonal Flu Vaccination Clinic brought the convenience of a health facility staffed with public health nurses to DPH, reiterating the agency’s mission of promoting health among all Georgians, including its own internal employees.

DPH’s Worksite Wellness team worked alongside the SHBP team to help promote the flu clinic, encouraging all public health employees to lead by example in preventing disease and protecting their health.

“As part of the Worksite Wellness team, we must emulate what we ask of those living in Georgia,” said Carmen Daniel, DPH Worksite Wellness fitness and wellness specialist. “Whether we are increasing physical activity, eliminating our stressors or getting a flu shot, we encourage all DPH employees to demonstrate how small proactive measures can help everyone maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

DPH is reminding high risk groups in Georgia to get the flu vaccine: pregnant women, children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old; Georgians 50 years of age and older; Georgians of any age with certain chronic medical conditions including asthma; Georgians living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; health care professionals and home caregivers.                                                                                                                                        

Georgians can also protect themselves from the flu by taking precautions that help stop the spread of the infection such as washing hands frequently, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying at home when you display common flu symptoms like a cough, sore throat and stuffy nose. 

Visit the CDC online to learn more about the influenza virus and the seasonal flu vaccines available in your area.  To help educate Georgians about the facts of the Ebola virus, DPH has a selection of information available to view on its website at www.dph.ga.gov

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