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Flu vaccine available Tuesday

ALBANY, Ga. — It’s that time of year again.

The Southwest Public Health District’s 14 county health departments will begin offering seasonal influenza vaccinations on Tuesday, officials with the district say.

“We have an ample supply of both nasal mist and flu shots,” said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, the district director.

Doses are $25. The health departments accept Medicaid, Medicare, many common insurance carriers and cash. Officials encourage individuals to contact their respective county health departments to find out about payment options.

Seasonal flu can cause mild to severe illness — and even death, Grant said in a news release.

“Some people, such as older adults, young children and people with chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart disease are at high risk for serious flu complications,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older as the first and best way to protect against influenza. However, individuals are encouraged to check with their health care providers to ensure they are candidates for the flu vaccine, since people who are sick with a fever, have severe egg allergies or other conditions should not get the vaccine.

“Remember, you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick,” Grant said. “Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, a dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms are also common, especially in children, health district officials say.

Besides getting inoculated, there are other actions that protect against the flu, including:

n Covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing;

n Washing hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based rub if soap and water aren’t available;

n If a flu-like illness is present, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

For more information, individuals should contact their respective health departments or go to www.cdc.gov.