FOR RELEASE SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
Contact Tom Kornegay at 678.303.9260 or tkornegay@mag.org
MAG & MAA encouraging Georgians to get vaccinated for flu ASAP
ATLANTA – Two of the leading voices for Georgia’s medical profession, including the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) and the Medical Association of Atlanta (MAA), are encouraging Georgians to get vaccinated for the flu as soon as possible – and no later than the end of October.
“It is crucial for patients to get immunized for the flu as early as possible because COVID-19 is also a respiratory infection, and co-infection could bring a much higher risk of mortality,” says MAG President Andrew Reisman, M.D. “Both diseases are transmitted in the same way, and we only have a vaccine for the flu. Wearing a mask can help protect you from getting COVID-19, and a flu shot is the best and most proven way to protect you from influenza.”
MAA President Randy Rizor, M.D., stresses that, “It is essential for patients who are six months or older to get vaccinated for the flu once a year, and they should ideally discuss their vaccination options with their primary care physician as a part of their overall health maintenance program. Getting a flu shot later in the year may be effective, but doing so by the end of October is considered ideal.”
Dr. Reisman adds that, “Babies who are less than six months old are too young to be vaccinated against flu, which is why it is essential for everyone who spends time around them to be vaccinated. Women who are pregnant are at greater risk of flu complications and should be vaccinated, and as an added bonus their antibodies are passed on to their babies – which helps protect the babies from the flu in their first few months of life. It is also worth noting that children between six months and eight years old who are getting vaccinated for the flu for the first time need two doses of the vaccine, which must be administered at least four weeks apart.”
“Meanwhile,” he says, “older patients and those with underlying medical conditions should get vaccinated because they are at higher risk of both flu and COVID-19 complications, and they should know that there are now special high dose and adjuvanted flu shots for patients who are 65 years and older. Another important point to make is that an egg allergy is no longer a contraindication for flu vaccination.” 
In terms of timing, Dr. Rizor points out that, “It can take up to two weeks to build up protective antibodies, which is why it is important to get vaccinated before flu season begins.”  
Flu symptoms include high fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Most people get better in a few days, but the flu can lead to pneumonia and other serious and potentially deadly complications.
Dr. Rizor suggests that, “If you develop flu like symptoms – and even if you have received a flu shot – be sure to let your physician know as you may need flu antiviral medications. This is especially important for older patients and those with chronic medical conditions.” 
In addition to getting vaccinated, physicians believe that the best ways for patients to avoid getting the flu are to…
– Use a hand sanitizer
– Wash their hands with soap or an alcohol-based rub on a regular basis
– Cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze
– Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
– Clean their living and work-space surfaces on a regular basis
– Avoid contact with others if they have the flu
– Stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone – unless they require medical care
And since there is no vaccine for COVID-19, physicians are strongly encouraging Georgians to continue to…
– Wear a mask in public
– Practice the six-foot social distancing rule
– Clean and disinfect the surfaces they use at work and home
– Stay home if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms   
Go to www.flu.govwww.cdc.gov/flu or http://dph.georgia.gov/influenza-what-you-need-know for additional information on the flu and flu vaccines. 
Click here to watch a ‘Move the Needle’ video that was produced by Sandra Fryhofer, M.D. – a graduate of the MAG Foundation’s Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy – to increase vaccination rates in Georgia.
With more than 8,400 members, MAG is the leading voice for physicians in Georgia. MAG is an advocate for physicians in every practice setting and specialty. Go to www.mag.org for additional information.
Established in 1854, MAA is a non-profit association that “promotes the health and safety of our community through physician leadership” and is “dedicated to the advancement of organized medicine in the Atlanta area and is the pulse of Atlanta medicine.” Go to www.maa-assn.org for more information on MAA, which has 1,800 members. Also follow MAA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MedicalAssociationofAtlanta and on Twitter at twitter.com/MedicalAssocATL.  
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