COLUMBUS, Ga. – The flu season is here and right now Georgia has the most cases in the country. According to a map from the CDC that ranks the state in the “low” range for cases but still more than any other state.
20,000 people die every year from influenza. September 1st, this season’s flu shot because available.
Dr. Kevin Lokkesmoe with the Armour Road Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine believes it’s imperative everyone over six months old gets the flu shot. Last year, he says, he had a healthy, vibrant 70 year old man die from the flu.
“It’s just a tragedy to see the flu claim someone’s life. Of course, he didn’t get the flu shot.”
In his office, he usually sees the peak of flu season hit in February. He could give up to 200 vaccinations a day and see 30-40 people with flu-like symptoms. Lokkesmoe says an entire school can be affected by influenza.
“Schools have been empty during an epidemic of influenza and it’s really important to know 20,000 people a year in the US can die,” he says.
At Blackmon Road Middle School, the principal says they see an increase of 10-20% absenteeism in the peak of flu season, so she is proactive with her staff.
“Last year we had Walgreens come in and do flu shots on campus for our faculty members,” says Penny Bowen, Blackmon Road Middle School Principal.
Health officials urge everyone over six months old, especially the young, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system, to get the flu shot now before it’s too late.
Dr. Lokkesmoe says, “It’s the best $25 you’ll ever spend.”
If you think you may have the flu, don’t wait. Doctors can prescribe Tamiflu that will reduce the length of the time you have the flu.
Flu shots are covered by Medicare and most insurances but if your insurance doesn’t cover it – it’s $20-$30.
According to the CDC, this year’s flu shot is highly effective at 50-60% effectiveness. Last year the flu shot was 13%.