(Valdosta, GA) – The Infection Prevention and Control Department at South Georgia Medical Center announced that SGMC has confirmed the first case of flu for the 2015-16 flu season. Chief of Infectious Diseases Willy Saurina, MD, MSc, FACP, urges those who are eligible to receive the flu vaccine to get one as soon as possible. For individuals who dislike shots, antiviral meds in the form of a nasal spray are available from area physicians.Over 36,000 people die in the US from flu-related complications each year. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized. The Valdosta community is fortunate to have an ample supply of flu vaccine this year. Vaccines are currently available at SGMC’s Urgent Care clinic, as well as all public health departments in Lowndes County (Downtown Valdosta, Lake Park and Hahira), area pharmacies and physicians’ offices.Influenza, more commonly referred to as “the Flu,” is a contagious respiratory disease that can cause cough, fever (usually high), headaches, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, fatigue and a runny nose. The disease is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing. It can cause mild to severe illness. The young, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic health problems are at higher risk from serious flu-related complications. It is a common myth in our society that flu vaccines cause the flu. Today’s vaccines are made from viruses have been killed and they cannot cause infection.Flu germs are often widespread in crowded gathering places, such as churches, stores and malls during colder weather. In addition to getting an annual flu shot, SGMC recommends frequent hand washing and/or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to minimize the spread of germs.