Health officials step up flu prevention efforts in Georgia

Reported Flu Cases Continue in All Areas of Virginia

The health department did not identify the individuals or say when the deaths occurred.

Between 600,000 and 2.4 million state residents will get the flu this year, and 120 to 2,000 will die of complications from the virus, the Health Department said.

The new numbers are for the time period of January 11 through February 3.

"Viral infections like flu can make people more vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections and we recommend people 65 years of age and over get vaccinated against a common pneumonia caused by pneumococcus".

The flu season is only several weeks old, but already it's likely to be one of the worst in recent history.

"This is the busiest flu season that I can recall since being in business since 1978", said pharmacist Gerry Acampora, owner of North Haven Pharmacy.

This season, officials say they have seen the highest surge of emergency visits stemming from flu-like symptoms in the past four years.

"This is a very hard season", said Anne Schuchat, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The free flu vaccine is available from 8 a.m. -4:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at the Wise County/Norton Health Department at 134 Roberts Ave. And the flu shot tends to be more effective against B strains, especially when compared to H3N2.

"The best protection is to get an annual flu shot, then try to avoid exposure by frequent handwashing and avoiding sharing cups, eating utensils, and smoking materials".

"We've administered to probably about 150, 200 more people just in the last week or so", said Rita Foster, RN for the East Shore Health District. Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate that the flu activity is still high and widespread across most of the nation, and increasing overall.

The flu is a respiratory virus that can either be mild or severe.

Department director Nate Smith said the majority of flu-related deaths are reported after the peak of transmission, which hasn't arrived yet.

Flu symptoms include: cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, chills and body aches. Clinic hours and the availability of the vaccine vary by location.

Officials of Aurora, Illinois, close a Catholic school, while those of Atlanta, Georgia, and NY recommended citizens to wear masks, to use germicide sprays to clean their hands and to avoid crowdy spaces.

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