ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Irwin County man has died as a result of the H1N1 virus. That's the 32nd death in Georgia, and a fifth have been in southwest Georgia. Health officials say the 50-year-old man did have an underlying medical condition, true in nearly all southwest Georgia deaths.
Health officials are not reporting every flu death, and there may be more deaths in southwest Georgia than you realize.
Health officials say keeping the flu at bay is all about preventative measures and that includes good hygiene practices and getting your seasonal and H1N1 flu shot. Phoebe is the first to get the H1N1 shot vaccine and with 5,300 doses they've got enough to cover employees and patients.
The H1N1 Flu is taking a death toll here in South Georgia. The Irwin County man died Tuesday at Tift Regional Medical Center. In August and September a Thomasville man in his 30's, a 64 year old Lee County man, a 71 year old Dougherty County man, a 40 year old Columbus woman and a 50 year old Muscogee County man all died from the flu.
Some deaths weren't reported as flu deaths because of a change in the way the numbers were counted.
"Once the way the CDC changed the way we report influenza hospitalizations and influenza deaths that in fact retrospectively we added a third death," said Southwest Georgia Health District Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
Health officials says it's their policy not to report flu deaths, with 40 percent of flu hospitalizations are people without underlying conditions they have stressed the importance of doing what you can to prevent the flu from affecting you.
"We can not over emphasize everything that we say over and over again about washing your hands with soap and water, using an alcohol based hand sanitizer, covering your coughs," said Grant.
The first shipment of 5300 doses of the H1N1 shot vaccine arrived at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital this week and will go to health care providers first.
"We'll be dealing with health care providers first, nurses, tech, therapists and people who are dealing with the patients up close and personal, the physicians on the medical staff and then we'll expand from those direct care providers to those in the patient care areas and then out to the general employee," said PPMH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Patten.
Then to patients. Health officials hope as more shot vaccine arrives in southwest Georgia, more people will get vaccinated, potentially preventing future deaths.
"Every death, every one is a tragedy," Grant said.
Health officials warn while we're in what seems like a downward trend of flu cases, you shouldn't think the flu has passed us by. We're just at the beginning of flu season and a second wave is expected, that's why health officials encourage everyone to check with their doctor to see if they've received the vaccine and then to get the shot.
Click HERE to find out who has vaccine in your area. Type your zip code into the H1N1 vaccine locator, and select how far you're willing to drive for the vaccine. When we called some the health care providers on the list today many said they haven't yet received the vaccine.