If you did not get a flu shot in the fall, it’s not too late!  There is still time to protect yourself and your family.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, flu cases are on the rise across the U.S.  The flu is widespread in 46 states, including Georgia.  Flu is easily spread through entire families and results in lost time from work and school.

Flu ShotThere are still many weeks to go in this winter’s flu season.  The best way to protect yourself is by getting vaccinated.  The flu shot is recommended for everyone aged six months and older.  It takes approximately two weeks for the body to develop the antibodies that protect against the flu virus.  Young children may require two doses of vaccine administered four weeks apart to be fully protected.  The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women.

The elderly and those who are at high risk for serious complications should definitely be vaccinated.  This includes people who have chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.  Those whose immune systems are compromised, such as people receiving chemotherapy, are also in the high-risk group.  Flu complications for these people can be deadly.  People who are allergic to eggs and those who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome should not be vaccinated.

Complications of the flu can be serious.  The most common complications are ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and pneumonia.  Those who develop pneumonia may need to be hospitalized.  The flu can worsen chronic respiratory conditions such as COPD and asthma.

If you do come down with flu symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor within 48 hours.  An antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu, can be given to help ease flu symptoms and speed recovery.