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You don’t want the flu this year

The Georgia Department of Public Health held a press conference on Wednesday, updating people on the influenza outbreak that has impacted the entire United States. The GDPH said that there were 37 flu related deaths in Georgia so far this year and that number is expected to climb even higher.

We aren’t trying to scare anyone, but the flu and the complications that come along with it are very serious. A 15-year-old in Newnan died from the flu on Tuesday. A 5-year-old boy in Marietta died earlier this year and many others, of vastly different ages, have died all across the country.

Locally, WellStar West Georgia Medical Center has seen 254 cases of the flu this year. That’s more than the hospital saw all of last year and way more than it saw in 2015-2016.

It’s one thing to see stories on television that the flu is impacting people all over the country or even in Atlanta. It’s an entirely different thing to see that 254 people have been to the hospital in LaGrange because of influenza this year, with most of those cases coming in the last two months.

The hospital has changed its visitation policy for now, ensuring that people with flu-like symptoms won’t see admitted patients. Other hospitals have added similar methods, trying to slow the spread of the virus.

The thing is, many have still not gotten a flu shot this year. The shot is less effective than usual — somewhere around 30 percent, depending on who you ask — but it still gives you a chance to prevent the flu.

Given how quickly it’s spreading, why not help your odds?

The Georgia Department of Public Health has flu shots available and no appointment is needed. Many area pharmacies do the same thing.

In all of this, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The peak of flu season, if it hasn’t already passed, should be right around the corner. Usually in February and March the virus slows.

We hope that’s the case. Until then, we recommend getting the flu shot and washing your hands frequently.

And if you do get sick, go to the doctor. It’s not worth taking a chance.

Lastly, if you get diagnosed with the flu, stay at home. Don’t go out and spread it even further. Many are heading back to work too soon and end up getting sick with something else.

This will all pass in time. Until then, take extra precaution to stay healthy, and if you do get the flu, don’t overdo it. The numbers locally and around the state should tell you all you need to know about this year’s flu virus.