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    NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 7-13, 2014

North GeorgiaThe holidays are here, and that means decorating, cooking and vaccinating. What is commonly referred to as a “flu shot” is the single most important step for protecting yourself and others against influenza. National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 7-13, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging all Georgians to get their flu vaccine.

Flu season can begin as early as August and could last through May, according to officials of the North Georgia Health District (comprised of Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties). It is important that Georgians understand the best way to protect against influenza is to receive an annual flu vaccine. As long as the virus is circulating, it’s never too late to vaccinate.

Influenza can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and sometimes death. On average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for illnesses associated with seasonal influenza virus infections1, and it is estimated that more than 36,000 Americans die each year from influenza-related illness.2

Regardless of race, age, gender or ethnicity, everyone can get sick from the flu. Those especially at risk are adults 65 years of age and older. Influenza and pneumonia together are among the top 10 leading causes of death among Georgians over age 65. Also, children younger than 5 are at higher risk, as well as pregnant women and people with certain chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or other long-term medical conditions.

Preventive actions such as simply washing your hands and covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing can guard against the flu.

Most importantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine3 – whether as a flu shot or the *nasal spray. Getting a flu vaccine is more convenient than ever before. Vaccines are available at your doctor or local health department, and at many retail pharmacies. Many employers, schools, colleges and universities also offer flu vaccines.

National Influenza Vaccination Week emphasizes the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu. So this winter, the Georgia Department of Public Health encourages all Georgians to call your doctor’s office, local health department or pharmacy and get immunized.

For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-what-you-need-know.

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1 http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/hospital.htm

2 http://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/Immunizations/Flu-Season-Flu-Pneu-FAQs.pdf

3 http://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/nivw/nivw-keypoints-2013.pdf

*Vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy people 2 – 49 years old who are not pregnant.