Southwest Georgians urged to get flu shot - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Southwest Georgians urged to get flu shot

Woman gets free flu shot to protect against flu illness (Source: WALB) Woman gets free flu shot to protect against flu illness (Source: WALB)
Joni Patten, Phoebe Nurse (Source: WALB) Joni Patten, Phoebe Nurse (Source: WALB)
Scott Ellis, 59, gets his first-ever flu shot administered by Patten (Source: WALB) Scott Ellis, 59, gets his first-ever flu shot administered by Patten (Source: WALB)
Rebecca Massey, flu shot recipient (Source: WALB) Rebecca Massey, flu shot recipient (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The flu across Southwest Georgia has escalated so much that hospitals have hit capacity.

Phoebe Putney in Albany and Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton are just two hospitals urging people to get the flu shot to stay healthy.

Nurses have been going to various on-sight locations like Albany Rescue Mission, the mall and the Salvation Army just to try to keep residents healthy by administering free flu shots. 

It only takes a few seconds, yet Southwest Georgia residents are hesitant to protect themselves.  

"I guess it's about half and half. People want it and I guess some just won't take it," said Phoebe Nurse Joni Patten.

Patten travels to various locations to try to give people flu shots, but since it was reported that this year's vaccine may not be as effective, she says people are hesitant. 

MORE: Information about the effectiveness of this year's vaccine

"Flu shot we give this time, it may still prevent the flu, because there are different strains still," explained Patten, "Just because one is more prevalent doesn't mean there's not the others, but it will maybe make it if you still get it a little bit less severe so you have a little more protection."

The Georgia Department of Public Health said this strain of the flu has caused more than 5 deaths and more than 300 people to go to the hospital. 

And two local residents don't want to take any chances. 

Scott Ellis, 59, got his first flu shot at the Albany Mall on Monday.

"A lot of people are getting sick and I'm trying to prevent it," explained Ellis.

He and Rebecca Massey, 19, just happened to be at the mall when they stopped by Phoebe's table to get their shots. 

"People have been getting sick a lot lately, so, just wanted to be updated on my vaccines," said Massey.

Patten said she too got vaccinated in the fall, and she's been fortunate to not get sick. Her goal is for everyone to remain flu-free.

"You can still get the flu if you've already been exposed to it and get the shot because you already have it in you. So you may still get it, but it's still worth trying to prevent it," explained Patten.

Tift Regional also got hit hard by the flu, in fact, there are now visitor restrictions in place.

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