Health officials are warning that flu season isn’t over yet, and this year’s illness is tracking closely to the 2017-18 season, which had some of the highest numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in 40 years.

Influenza and flu-like illness have already killed 15 Georgians. Six of those deaths happened in the last week of 2019.Health officials are warning that flu season is nowhere near over. And this year’s illness is particularly bad for children, GPB’s Ellen Eldridge reports.

Georgia Department of Public Health epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said the early appearance of Influenza B means children are more likely to get sick. Now, influenza A is also on the rise.

"It is possible that we may have almost like a second peak or a second wave of influenza A infections," Drenzek said. "And this particular flu virus has a preponderance to impact young adults."

While the health department cannot predict the peak of flu season while it's ongoing, tracking the reasons for doctor visits helps epidemiologists understand the severity.

In December, 12% of patients seen by doctors had flu-like illness, which is high when compared to the 7% with similar symptoms who visited doctors the previous December.

As long as someone is not sick, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

Officials recommend everyone over 6 months of age get the flu vaccine because even if those people sick, the severity will be reduced.

A graph comparing Georgia's current flu season (red line) to previous seasons.
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A graph comparing Georgia's current flu season (red line) to previous seasons.