It's early February, which means it's the middle of winter but also the middle of flu season.
Although it hasn't been officially declared if flu season has peaked, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports flu cases have been on the rise again for the past month, as students reported back to school from the holidays.
The CDC reports that the recent flu season started earlier than usual in 2019. By late November, the flu had hit hard in the Deep South, from Texas to Georgia. The virus then broke out in California and the Rocky Mountain states and then went widespread in the Northeast.
Some medical reports say that if someone with cold symptoms has a fever that lasts more than three days, it's the flu.
In our area, we know of many who had flu symptoms that lasted not just days but weeks. It was/is a lingering malady that kept many out of commission.
If you were one of the lucky ones to have escaped being sick this winter, congratulations. If you want to remain flu-free or if you have had it and want to avoid a relapse, there are many ways to avoid catching it.
One of the main ways is to get a flu shot, which are still widely available at drug stores, your doctor's office or at a county health department.
This year’s flu vaccine may not be particularly effective against the strain of the virus now widespread in the country, CDC experts said. But even so, it’s worth getting the shot: People who are vaccinated fare better if struck by the flu than those who are not. It should be noted that this year's vaccine is effective against other strains that have popped up.
The Whitfield County Health Department recently sent out a release urging area residents to get a flu shot, and especially targeted the urgency of getting your child vaccinated, saying that while anyone is susceptible to the flu virus, it is especially easy for the flu to spread among schoolchildren as they are more susceptible to getting infected and becoming seriously ill with the flu. The vaccine not only reduces the spread of the flu to others, getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits and missed school days.
Avoiding the flu will also make you less susceptible to the ominous Coronavirus that is dominating the news lately.
The CDC says the best way to avoid it and the flu is:
* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Stay home when you are sick.
* Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
* Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.
We'd like to add to this list an old saying borrowed from the health department: Don't wait, vaccinate!
You'll protect yourself, your children and your community.