Editorial: Flu season has not yet hit hard, but take steps to prevent getting sick

While the holiday season of gifts and cheer is here, there's another season that has arrived bringing fever, nausea and body aches -- flu season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest flu update on Nov. 27: "Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains low, but in recent weeks, the number of influenza virus detections reported by clinical and public health laboratories has increased, and the percent of outpatient visits for respiratory illness has trended upward."

Health officials are concerned with the effect a widespread flu season would have on hospitals and emergency rooms as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. While the flu season in the area has not yet reached full swing, this is a good time to remind people of everyday steps they can take to help prevent getting the flu.

Health officials recommend that everyone six months and older get a flu shot, especially those who are in the high risk category (those 65 and older, pregnant women, young children, those with certain diseases and others). The flu vaccine is still available locally. You can receive a flu shot at the Murray County Health Department (709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road), the Whitfield County Health Department (800 Professional Blvd.) and many doctors offices and pharmacies.

Here are other tips from the CDC to help prevent you from contracting the flu:

• Take everyday preventive actions that are recommended to reduce the spread of flu.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

• Cover coughs and sneezes.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.

• For flu, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Fever should be gone without the need to use a fever-reducing medicine. Note that the stay-at-home guidance for COVID-19 may be different.

• In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments or public health departments may recommend additional precautions be taken in your community.

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