It’s time to roll up your sleeve
Habersham Medical Center encourages flu shots
DEMOREST, Ga. – Flu season typically doesn’t start until late-October, but Habersham Medical Center has already had several confirmed cases. As a precaution, the medical center is currently providing the flu vaccine to all its employees, volunteers and long-term care residents.
And beginning at midnight on October 1st, the medical center will begin assessing hospitalized patients to see if they need to be given the influenza vaccine before they are discharged from the hospital. 
“We encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated, especially those who are at risk or are a care taker of someone who it high risk,” says Theresa Metro-Lewis, a registered nurse who works in the infection prevention department at Habersham Medical Center.  “The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that everyone older than six months of age should get a flu shot, even if you do not have any risk factors.”
“Habersham Medical Center’s WorkWise Occupational Health department also has begun administering flu shots for our corporate clients,” says Ryan Snow, director of occupational health.  “We will administer more than 2,000 flu shots at Fieldale Farm’s Habersham and Hall locations and will also provide flu shots for our many other employers in Habersham and surrounding counties. We have seen an increase in demand this year and feel it is because more and more employers are taking extra steps to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees,” adds Snow.     
To be proactive in the fight against germs and to reduce the risk of flu, Habersham Medical Center also urges visitors not to enter the hospital or area nursing homes if they are ill or think they might be getting sick.   Children under the age of 12 will not be allowed to visit patients in the hospital during flu season, except siblings of newborns.
Common flu symptoms may include high fever, headache, tiredness/weakness, dry cough, sore throat, runny nose, or body aches. If you develop flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider, stay home and avoid contact with other people; and cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
“Most people who get influenza feel sick for a week or two and recover. In some people, influenza leads to more serious lung infections,” adds Metro-Lewis. “Signs that influenza is getting worse include fever, chills and shortness of breath.”
 Flu shots are available from your local healthcare provider or at PrimeCare, HMC’s non-emergent clinic. For an appointment call (706) 754-CARE.  Area businesses interested in having a clinician on-site to administer the flu vaccine can contact Snow at rsnow@hcmcmed.orgor 706-754-3113, ext. 1116.