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January 15, 2013
In case you hadn't noticed, it's flu season.

So far, I've avoided getting sick this winter (knock on wood), but if the CDC is to be believed, this year is going to be a doozy for the flu. A "flu-zy" even. Ha ha. See what I did there?

Several of my friends and coworkers have experienced that wonderful charm the flu has to offer, some getting mild symptoms, others getting full-on, near-death experiences. It's a scary time to be healthy. In December, while some of the worst of it seemed to be going around, I lived on a diet of green tea and Emergen-C in an effort to boost my immune system. And it worked! (Again, knock on wood.)

The cynical rule of thumb is that, if you get the flu vaccine, you'll get a case of the flu. This was certainly true for one friend. The CDC says there are a couple reasons why this happens. Firstly, people may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period it takes the body to develop an immune response following vaccination. As if that weren't bad enough, there's also a possibility of catching a different flu virus not included in the vaccine.

The CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 flu season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-associated deaths each season ranged from a low of about 3,000 people to a high of about 49,000 people. That's a lot of people who have died from what really should not be that big of a problem. The most susceptible to the flu are the very young and the very old. Even if you don't get the flu, because you're just so healthy, you could still be carrying it and infect others.

Get the flu vaccine – it's available in shot form as well as a spray – and keep us all healthier this year.

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For additional information about the flu and prevention, go to www.flu.gov or www.cdc.gov.

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Where can you get the flu vaccine?

Besides local pharmacies, Fulton County has six locations where residents can receive the flu vaccination.

 Adamsville Regional Health Center – 3700 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW, Atlanta, 404-613-4215

 College Park Regional Health Center – 1920 John E. Wesley Ave., College Park, 404-765-4155

 Lakewood Health Center – 1853 Jonesboro Rd. SE, Atlanta, 404-624-0626

 Neighborhood Union Health Center – 186 Sunset Ave., Atlanta, 404-612-4665

 Center for Health and Rehabilitation – 265 Boulevard NE, Atlanta, 404-612-5835

 North Fulton Regional Health Center – 3155 Royal Dr., Alpharetta, 404-332-1834

Vaccines are available from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. through the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness.

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