Nov 17, 2022 - News

Georgia sees "very high" flu activity

A map of the United States with different colors showing the level of influenza activity. The Southeast is "very high."

Screenshot: CDC

Georgia is one of seven states with a "very high" rate of influenza-like illnesses, according to the latest CDC data.

  • The state estimates Georgia's flu vaccination rate sits at under 18%.
  • Clinical labs in Georgia reported 1,131 positive tests in the week ending Nov. 5. the state has a 24% positivity rate, the highest of this season and nearly double the national rate, says Nancy Nydam, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
  • During that same week, 203 patients in metro Atlanta were hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, bringing the total to more than 650 since the week ending Oct. 8.

Why it matters: The data suggests this year's flu season is hitting the U.S. earlier than in previous years, especially in the South, Axios' Jacob Knutson reports.

  • Flu activity levels haven't been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
  • The spike also coincides with a higher rate in RSV cases compared to previous years and the continued spread of COVID-19.

Of note: The number of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness among ages 5-24 is much higher than in recent seasons,” says Nydam.

Context: Flu season begins in October, and illnesses usually peak between December and February.

The big picture: Six other states — all in the Southeast — and Washington D.C. have a "very high" rate of flu activity, the CDC reported.

  • Yes, but: That rate doesn't account for confirmed cases of the flu, only patients who present with symptoms that could mean they have the flu.

The bottom line: A flu vaccine is the most effective protection against the virus, officials say.

  • “The holidays bring gatherings with family and friends and increase the likelihood of spreading the flu,” Kathleen Toomey, the state's public health commissioner, said in a statement. “Now is the time to get vaccinated.”

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about receiving a flu shot.

What's next: DPH will release updated numbers Friday.


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