Jan 11, 2019 | Atlanta, GA
Students, faculty, and staff have returned to campus from winter break during a major upswing in flu activity in the region. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there have been 440 hospitalizations for flu-related complications in the Atlanta metro area and 4 deaths in the state associated with this flu season so far. Unlike other regions experiencing widespread flu caused by the H1N1 virus, Georgia and the southeast have been seeing flu caused by H3N2 virus.
Luckily, both of the strains that are heavily circulating in the United States and our region are in this year’s flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months or older get the flu vaccine every year. “The flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting the flu, and reduces the severity and duration of illness if you do get the flu,” shared Dr. Benjamin Holton, senior director of Stamps Health Services. In addition to getting your flu shot, you should wash your hands frequently, try to avoid close contact to people who are sick, and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, like your cell phone, that can be contaminated with germs.
If you do get sick, you should stay at home and not return to work or classes until you have been without a fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, such as Tylenol or Advil. Dr. Holton continued, “staying home and limiting contact with others is the most effective way to prevent spread of flu within the community.” You should also cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids like water and sports drinks – avoid drinks with caffeine as they can be dehydrating. People at increased risk for flu complications may also be prescribed antiviral medications to help treat the flu.
It isn’t too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already. Students who have paid the health fee can get their flu shot for free at any appointment at Stamps Health Services or at any upcoming flu shot clinic. The next flu shot clinic is on January 30th from 9am to 3pm on the 2nd floor of Stamps Health Services. Employees can stop by the Stamps Health Services Pharmacy Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 4pm to get their vaccine. Employees enrolled in Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia can get the vaccine for no copay. Healthcare-enrolled Georgia Tech employees can also earn $25 toward their 2019 USG Well-Being credit.
For more information about the flu and about flu shots on campus, go to health.gatech.edu/flu.