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Posted: December 21, 2012 4:54 a.m.

Flu activity rising, hospital ER sees high volume

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 A trip to the doctor and a package of Tamiflu are probably not on anyone's Christmas list but might be a top seller this year as Georgia joined the growing list of states with "widespread influenza activity," according to the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported this week that "flu activity" has increased across the nation over the last two weeks.

Karen Young, Director of Rockdale Medical Center's Emergency Room and Cardiology, said the ER has been seeing a record number of patients overall, many with the flu or flu-like symptoms. "We normally see between 120 and130 patients a day, but now we’re seeing between 170 to 190 patients a day," she said.

Health officials recommend residents take precautions by encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine.

"When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself and those around you. You can pass the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick. Flu vaccinations are the best way to prevent the flu in our community," said Linda Davis, RN, BSN, Director of Clinic Services for Newton Rockdale and Gwinnett County Health Departments.

If you do come down with flu-like symptoms, it's important to see your primary care physician within the first day to three days to be treated by anti-virals. Beyond three to four days, physicians will probably treat your symptoms instead, said Young.

Other than getting the vaccine, there are everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of the flu: wash your hands often with soap and water; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then throw it away; avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, since germs can pass this way and; avoid close contact with sick people. Most importantly, if you are sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid spreading the flu to others.

The seasonal flu shot and nasal spray are $25; High-Dose flu vaccines are $50. For payment, the Health Department accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BlueChoice and PPO). United Healthcare and Cigna are also accepted for state employees.

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