ATLANTA - With the holidays around the corner, health officials in Georgia are getting ready for a possible spike in flu cases.
Right now, we are about five weeks into the flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu activity in Georgia has jumped from low to moderate, and there have already been more than 30 hospitalizations.
"We're starting to see some increases, especially over the last week or so," Dr. Cherie Drenzek, with the Georgia Department of Public Health, said. "It's absolutely imperative that everybody over 6 months of age get a flu vaccine this year."
A month into flu season, health officials are bracing for what's to come. The flu season in the Southern Hemisphere just ended, and it was severe.
"Based on the experience of the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere which just ended, which was very severe flu season for them, they actually looked at altering a few of the strains that go into our flu vaccine," Drenzek said.
To develop this year's vaccine, researchers took into account the flu strains that circulated last year and what happened in the Southern Hemisphere this year.
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While last season's vaccine wasn't as effective as hoped, doctors said the flu shot is still the best defense.
"No vaccine is 100% effective, but getting a flu vaccine actually reduces the chance that you'll have severe complications from flu, hospitalizations and deaths," Drenzek said.
"I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old and my wife works in the medical industry so ever since we had our firstborn, I've gotten the flu shot," flu shot recipient Aaron McCullough said.
What McCullough stated is what doctors want to hear, but not everyone's convinced.
"I'm very careful to see what things will do to us over a period of time before I jump on the bandwagon," one woman told Channel 2 Action News.
Health officials are bracing for a possible spike in cases around the holidays, so they're urging flu shot skeptics to get vaccinated if not for themselves, for others.
"As is true with flu every year, we really don't know until it gets going. It's very unpredictable," Drenzek said.
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