SUMMERVILLE, GA: The Chattooga County Health Department, 60 Farrar Drive, Summerville, is now offering flu vaccines on a walk-in basis, usually with no out-of-pocket expense, during regular health department hours.
“Flu season is here,” says Chattooga County Health Department Nurse Manager Judy Wesson, and we encourage everyone six months and older to get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Getting a flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting flu.”
“The flu shot will last through the flu season,” Wesson says. Flu season usually begins in October but can begin as early as September and last well into March. Peak flu season in Georgia usually occurs in late January and early February.
Wesson reminds that COVID-19 is still circulating in the community and that the health department can also provide free COVID vaccines and boosters to eligible individuals. “Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses but are caused by different viruses. It’s possible for a person to get both the COVID-19 virus and the influenza virus at the same time or back-to-back,” says Wesson.
The health department has thequadrivalent vaccine, which provides broader protection against circulating flu viruses, and a limited amount of the high-dose influenza vaccine, which is more effective for persons 65 years of age and older.
Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complication from influenza, including:
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years,
- adults 65 years of age and older,
- pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum,
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and
- people who have medical conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
It is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from flu.
It is also recommended that pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy. Not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants, for up to the first few months of life at least, at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.
The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID are similar, it may be hard to tell them apart based on symptoms alone. You may need a test to confirm a diagnosis.
According to the CDC, common symptoms shared by COVID and the flu include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle pain of body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
- COVID may include a change in or loss of taste and smell.
Additional similarities include:
- Both COVID and flu spread from person-to-person by respiratory droplets produced when talking, coughing, or sneezing.
- Close physical contact (e.g., shaking hands) or touching a
- contaminated surface can transfer the virus.
- Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people are infectious to others.
For these reasons, wearing a mask and safe physical distancing will reduce the risk not only of spreading either virus but also of contracting either virus. Other important prevention tools include frequent handwashing and sanitizing, frequent cleaning of common touch surfaces, and staying at home if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
A more complete list of similarities and differences between COVID and the flu can be found on this CDC website.
Chattooga County Health Department hours are Monday – Wednesday 8 amto 5 pm, Thursday 8 am to 6:30 pm, and Friday 8 am to 2 pm. The Environmental Health office’s hours are Monday – Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.
For payment, the health department accepts cash, credit-or-debit card, Medicare, Medicaid, Amerigroup, CareSource, PeachState, Aetna, Ambetter, and most Cigna, BlueCross BlueShield (Anthem), and United Healthcare plans.
Contact the Chattooga County Health Department, 60 Farrar Drive, Summerville, at 706-857-3471; the Environment Health office at 706-857-3377, or visitwww.nwgapublichealth.org/counties/chattooga. Follow us on Facebook to receive news, emergency messages, and health information at https://www.facebook.com/ChattoogaDPH