Officials Encourage Flu Shots After Record-Breaking, Deadly Season

Oct 5, 2018

Last year, more than 900,000 people across the country were hospitalized with the flu, and 80,000 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of influenza hospitalizations last season was the highest recorded in 40 years, officials said, and they’re urging Georgians to get a flu shot.

Up to 20 percent of people get the flu each season. While most people feel better after a week, 155 people statewide died during the 2017-18 flu season, Georgia Department of Health Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Audrey Kunkes said. 

But those deaths only related to the number of positive flu tests, Kunkes said.

"So, there may have been many more (deaths) that we weren't able to count," she said.

Of those 155 deaths, five were under the age of 18. People over the age of 65 made up the majority of the other deaths.

"So it's important to know that flu can be deadly and the best way to prevent influenza is to get the flu vaccine," Kunkes said.

While the health department cannot predict what this year's flu season will look like, officials recommend everyone over 6 months of age get the flu vaccine because even if those people sick, the severity will be reduced, Kunkes said.

When people who can get the vaccine do, it helps prevent the spread of illness to people who are most at risk and cannot get a flu shot.

"Those are typically people younger than 5 years of age, 65 years of age or older, (and) people with asthma or other health conditions," Kunkes said.