Each year in Georgia, flu season incites a frenzy of flu shots, missed work days and flu-related hospitalizations. This year is no different. In the first few days of January, the flu season was at its worst, according to the Department of Public Health. From January 4 to January 10 alone there were 23 hospitalizations due to flu complications, and three flu-related deaths.

The Flu Vaccine

Even though many people take the proper precautions to avoid and prevent the spread of the flu, such as getting their flu shots and staying home if they feel sick, the flu is still considered widespread in Georgia. Although getting a flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from getting the virus during flu season, the vaccination is not 100 percent effective.

This year, the flu is harder to avoid and treat. According to the Georgia Department of Health, more than 90 percent of flu strains nationwide are H3N2 this flu season. When H3N2 is the dominant strain, there are more flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

In addition to this, most of the flu viruses affecting people this season do not match the vaccine virus created for this flu season. Although the CDC estimates that getting the flu vaccine reduces your chance of getting the flu by 23 percent, you should still take additional actions to ensure you stay flu-free this season.

Fighting the Flu

While the flu vaccine is the best method of defense against the virus, other precautions should be taken to avoid getting the flu or shorten the length of time you have the flu. Take these steps to reduce your and others’ risk of being hospitalized by the flu:

  • Take antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu or Relenza, which reduce the risk of flu-related complications
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent the flu from spreading
  • Try not to touch your face so flu germs have less of a chance of getting into your body
  • Stay home from school or work to avoid infecting other people if you are sick with the flu
  • Treat secondary bacterial infections if symptoms arise once you’ve recovered from the flu

By taking these simple yet effective measures, your risk of getting and spreading the flu will decrease substantially.