Flu season is here and Alabama is one of 23 states experiencing high flu-like illness activity. It is one of 43 reporting widespread activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the strain influenza A is causing most illnesses this year. If you have not received a flu shot, it is not too late! Local doctors are still providing the shot, but the shot only provides a 1/3 better chance of not contracting the flu than not having the shot at all.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies how well the vaccine protects against flu illness. While people in certain age groups may develop different levels of symptoms, the vaccine reduces the chances of getting flu by about 50 to 60 percent or more, when the vaccine viruses are like the ones traveling in the community.

Dr. Karen Landers, from the Alabama Department of Public Health, said “It is not too late to vaccinate for flu and reduce the risk of illness. In addition, it is important that people wash hands, cover coughs, and stay home when they have flu-like illnesses.”

Flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue and muscle aches. Doctors can prescribe an anti-viral medication to treat the flu within 48 hours of the first symptom.

Landers reminds others that certain people with the flu are at higher risk of complications from the disease. It is important that those who have basic health conditions or may be caregivers of high-risk individuals check with their physicians or healthcare providers about antiviral medications that might help them recover more quickly from the flu.

To prevent spread of the flu, experts recommend washing hands and urge people to stay home from school or work if they feel ill. For most people, the illness passes within a week, but serious complications can send others to the hospital. Seniors citizens, young children, and those with basic health conditions have a higher risk of complications from the flu.

If you need or know someone who has not received their flu shot this year, you still have time. The Sumter County Health Department is giving free flu shots. Hours of Operation are 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The department is also open during lunch hours. To make an appointment, call (205) 652-7972.

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