Flu season in Georgia: What you need to know about the flu, shots and symptoms

The time of year Georgia residents dread is here: Flu season. But it’s never too soon to begin taking precautions for the flu virus.

We've done the research and here is everything you need to know about the flu, from identifying the symptoms to locating places offering flu shots in Atlanta.

When is flu season in Georgia?

Flu season in Georgia begins as soon as October and can run through springtime, but doctors say you can come down with the flu any time of the year.

Most cases of influenza are likely to occur in February, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The second and third most common months are December and March.

What are flu symptoms?

The most common symptoms of the flu can include a cough, sore throat and fatigue. There are also the body aches and headaches. A fever can also be a sign of the flu. Some signs more common among children with the flu may include vomiting and diarrhea.

Be aware that fever and other symptoms commonly attributed to the flu can also be signs of a common cold.

RELATED: Tracking metro Atlanta colds and flu? There's an app for that

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

It can be difficult to figure out whether you have a cold or the flu because of the similar symptoms. The illnesses are caused by different respiratory viruses, but cold symptoms are generally milder than flu symptoms. The simplest way to determine which illness you have is all about how bad you're feeling.

If you do get the flu and display the symptoms above, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides. The flu can last from a few days to less than two weeks. As always, the most important precaution is to wash your hands as often as possible.

Should I get the flu shot? What are the side effects?

The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older should get a flu shot by the end of October. Watch this video for five reasons to get the flu shot:

It can take up to two weeks for the shot to take effect in your body's immune system.

Contrary to popular flu myths, getting a flu shot does not mean you will get the flu, nor does it mean you won't get it. Some vaccines are made with an "inactivated" virus and aren't infectious, while others have no flu viruses at all. You may feel some tenderness or swelling in your arm, but those are common reactions to the shot.

RELATED: Here are some other flu myths that have been debunked by the CDC

Do I need a flu shot every year?

Think you won't need a flu shot this year because you received one last season? Consider that another myth. Researchers advise that you get a shot each year.

This year's vaccine can protect people from three or four strains of flu expected to be common this season.

For those who don't like needles, the nasal spray vaccine isn't a better alternative. The CDC isn't recommending the nasal spray for the 2016-2017 season, especially for children who normally receive a spray vaccine, after studies showed that it is not as effective as a flu shot.

READ MORETips for parents to help take the sting out of your child's flu shot

Where can I get the flu shot in metro Atlanta?

Atlanta residents can schedule an appointment with their doctor's office. Also, some employers offer flu shots for their employees.

You can also stop by your local Walgreens, CVS or Rite-Aid to receive a flu shot without scheduling an appointment.

Here is where to find flu shots in your county:

Don't see your county list? Try the interactive map below which is used by the CDC.