Three more Georgians have died of the flu, bringing the state’s total this season to 16 influenza-associated deaths as of Friday.
Flu is widespread in Georgia and 45 other states, and it has killed 26 children nationwide, the CDC said Friday.
“This year is shaping up to be a bad one, particularly for people 65 and older,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.
The agency Friday sent an alert to doctors, advising prompt use of Tamiflu and other antiviral medications for hospitalized flu patients and those at higher risk for complications such as pneumonia.
CDC officials say a nasty strain of flu is going around that is more dangerous to elderly people and very young children, the Associated Press reported. And officials think the flu vaccine doesn’t work well against this particular virus. So it’s more important than usual that physicians treat certain patients with Tamiflu or other antiviral drugs, Frieden said.
(Health officials say the limitations of the current flu vaccine should not be an excuse to avoid getting the shot. The vaccine can still benefit many people, the CDC says.)
Georgia reported there were 69 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta due to the flu during the week that concluded Jan. 3. So far this season, there have been 753 hospitalizations in the metro area.
The 16 deaths in Georgia include one child, according to the Department of Public Health weekly flu report.
Flu seasons tend to last about 13 weeks, and CDC data suggest the nation is about seven weeks in, Frieden said. “We’re about halfway there.”