Yes, the 2009 global scare of H1N1 has passed, but the flu can still put a major cramp on the holidays and beyond.
"I haven't gotten my flu shot yet, but I intend to over the next few days before winter really sets in," said Smyrna resident Alan Beard. "I try to get them every year, I don't like being sick if I don't have to be."
Over the course of the last three decades according to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been between 3,000 and 49,000 flu-related deaths each year in the United States. The number of deaths varies each year because flu seasons are so unpredictable.
"People tend to wait until they are feeling sick before coming in to see us," noted Lisa Shedrix, office manager for immunization at Smyrna Community Health Center. "This is always our busiest time of year, we especially encourage certain groups like the elderly, the very young and people with immune deficiencies to get their shots early in the season to reduce the risks they inherently face."
Though the vaccine is certainly not a cure, it is a solid preventative measure for protecting a very debilitating virus, and a necessity for people with chronic illnesses. Public places with high traffic or tight quarters prove for extra precaution as the virus has more opportunity to spread. Shedrix said teachers should encourage the use of hand sanitizer in their classrooms as a means of keeping the spread of the flu virus contained.
The flu, short for influenza, comes in a couple of different forms known as strands. They include the standard influenza, H1N1 and H3N2, typically seen as a seasonal strand of the virus. Early signs of its onset are fatigue, running nose, sore throat, aching joints and loss of appetite. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should not take them lightly as a full-blown case of the flu can be crippling from one to several days. You should see your physician immediately under such circumstances.
As mentioned, certain groups are at risk for serious complications to include death if not properly treated. However, with the abundance of local sites offering flu shots and vaccines, there is little excuse not to protect one's self, especially if you fall into a high-risk category. Costs for the shot typically range from 25 to 30 dollars and most are "cash and carry" sites not requiring health insurance.
Kaiser Permanente Medical Care, Town Park Medical Center, Smyrna. 770-434-2008. $30. Call for appointment.
Minute Clinic, (located inside CVS Pharmacy locations in Smyrna/Vinings). Requires appointments, see www.cvs.com/flu or call 1-888-FLU-SHOT for scheduling an appointment. $30.
The Little Clinic, (located inside Kroger stores at S. Cobb Dr., South Atlanta Road and Cobb Parkway). Walk-ins welcome. Flu injections offered. $20. For additional information see http://www.thelittleclinic.com
Rite Aide Pharmacy, 2113 S. Cobb Dr., Smyrna. 770-435-8115, walk-ins welcome. $25.
Publix Pharmacy, (at both Paces Ferry Rd. and S. Cobb Dr.) Walks-ins and appointments are accepted. Cost starts at $25. See www.publix.com or call 1-877-FLU-8100 for appointments.
Emory Clinic at Smyrna, 3903 S. Cobb Dr., Smyrna. 404-778-6510. Cost starts at $30. Appointment required.
Clinica De La Mama, 578 Windy Hill Road Rd., Smyrna. 770-436-8821. Walk-ins welcome. $20.
Smyrna Community Health Center, 3830 S. Cobb Dr. Ste #200, Smyrna. 770-438-5105. Walk-ins welcome. $20.