Georgia’s death toll from flu continued to mount this week, and now stands at 79 dead from the sickness.
The state Department of Public Health on Friday released figures for the week ending February 10, showing that 13 new patients were confirmed dead from flu, one of them a child.
Health officials are urging people who have not been vaccinated to do so. The request came with greater emphasis when late this week they learned that data showed the flu vaccine this year was somewhat more effective than previously thought.
The vaccine is 51 percent effective in children, even though the strain of virus it’s fighting this year is exceptionally adept at shape-shifting to elude immunity measures.
“Go get a flu shot!” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said loudly at a press briefing on the vaccine results Thursday. “Do it for yourself, your family and your community!”
The strain, H3N2, is less effective in adults, and is thought to be a key reason this year’s season has been so deadly. Well over 1,000 Georgians have been hospitalized with flu.
However, even if the vaccine does not keep a person from getting the flu entirely, it may help keep them from getting sicker than they otherwise would. Many who have died have gotten secondary infections, when they thought they were getting better from the flu, but a second infection came on its heels and attacked their already weakened body.
When healthy individuals get the flu shot, it helps prevent the spread of the disease to those who are particularly endangered: children and the elderly.
SYMPTOMS OF A FLU EMERGENCY
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency warning signs for people to go to the ER include:
Flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and a worse cough
Cough into the inside of your elbow, not the open air
Get a flu shot
Avoid infected people if possible
Wash hands frequently