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Public health urges emergency preparedness, flu vaccinations

Albany Herald - 9/13/2018

Sept. 13--ALBANY -- Southwest Georgia residents face familiar risks like tornadoes, floods and severe heat, in turn making it necessary to set in place preparations for them.

Meanwhile, the time of year has come to get a flu shot.

Potential emergencies to prepare for include pandemic flu and man-made disasters, which could be accidental, such as a railcar spill of a hazardous chemical, or deliberate, such as a terrorist attack.

"National Preparedness Month is the time to think and plan about what to do in case of an event ... not during the event itself," said Southwest Public Health District Emergency Preparedness Director Hank Wilson.

Preparing for worst-case scenarios allows individuals, families, schools, businesses and organizations to protect themselves and to able to return to normal more quickly.

"The theme for this year's National Preparedness Month is 'Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How,'" Wilson said.

The preparedness director listed a series of steps aimed at improving disaster readiness:

-- Be informed. Learn what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency. Rely on credible sources.

-- Make a plan. Prepare a plan and share it with family members. Be sure to include the elderly and pets.

-- Build a kit. Build a kit for disaster designed for specific needs.

-- Get involved. Find opportunities to support community preparedness, such as volunteering with the Regional Medical Reserve Corps. A medical background is not required.

More information on making an emergency plan, building a kit and other preparedness activities can be found at www.southwestpublichealth.org under "Preparedness" or by going to www.ready.gov. The health district is posting readiness tips on its Facebook and Twitter pages throughout September.

"Planning ahead and being prepared doesn't waste time or resources," Wilson said. "Being proactive can prevent damage and save lives."

On a similar note, public health officials are encouraging the public to get their flu shots. The 14 county health departments in the district have received shipments of seasonal flu vaccine and are recommending patients come in now for flu shots.

"The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone six months old and older get vaccinated against seasonal flu," District Immunization Coordinator Rebecca Snow said. "The CDC is also recommending that you receive your flu vaccine before the end of October."

Snow said getting the vaccine before the end of October gives it a chance to reach full effectiveness before flu season reaches its peak. Flu typically peaks in January and February.

Cost per dose is $30 for self-pay patients, but the health department staff can file insurance, and most patients will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses.


(c)2018 The Albany Herald, Ga.

Visit The Albany Herald, Ga. at www.albanyherald.com

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