FORSYTH COUNTY — With winter finally setting in comes the height of flu season, though there have been no signs of a record year.
“So far activity has been low, a lot lower than it was last year,” said Dave Palmer, spokesman for District 2 Public Health. “It has spiked in the last couple weeks some.”
That’s normal, though, he said.
District 2 is made up of 13 counties in northeastern Georgia, including Forsyth, Hall and Dawson. Flu season runs from October to May, with the peak usually being reached sometime in January or February.
Whether more people come down with the virus each year depends largely on the effectiveness of the vaccine.
“Vaccines are made for viruses that are circulating, and they’re tracked throughout the year,” Palmer said. “Being a virus, sometimes the virus may change a little bit and the vaccine may not be an exact match.”
That happened last year, resulting in more flu diagnoses than normal.
“The thing with influenza is it’s so unpredictable … It’s too early to know whether the vaccine and the virus are matching up,” he said. “That will come later in the year.”
However, as of January, it seems to be working.
Palmer said he recommends anyone feeling flu-like symptoms — fever, headache, cough, sneezing, muscle and body aches or a general feeling of tiredness and not feeling well — to get the advice of a health care provider.
“It is a virus, and there are no absolutes with that,” he said. “I would still encourage anyone who has at this point not gotten their flu shot to get one. It takes a couple of weeks for the immunity to build up.”
The number of people who get a preventative flu shot each year typically runs about the same, according to Palmer.
“As the CDC says,” he said, “the flu shot is the best preventative step you can take against getting the flu.”