Albany health officials advise taking precautions as flu cases rise

Albany health officials advise taking precautions as flu cases rise
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Staff at Phoebe hospital said that while they saw a major decrease in people contracting the flu during the Covid-19 pandemic, they are starting to see a slight increase as flu season approaches.

People can contract the flu at any time. However, the flu tends to circulate more starting in October and peaks between December and February.

Meghan Herendeen, the public information officer for Dougherty County Health Department, said certain demographics are more likely to get sick.

A flu shot poster in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
A flu shot poster in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. (WALB)

“Children are most likely to become sick with the flu, but its really important to note that adults over the age of 65, adults with certain chronic health conditions and pregnant women are more likely to suffer from severe complications because of the flu,” Herendeen said.

James Black, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Interim Chief Medical Officer, said that the decrease in cases during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic can be traced back to a few factors.

Dr. James Black, MD is Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's Interim Chief Medical Officer.
Dr. James Black, MD is Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's Interim Chief Medical Officer.(WALB)

“Well, initially we saw a big decrease in the number and mainly because as a pandemic world people were taking precautions during COVID-19. Including wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and social distancing. And those strategies that are used to reduce the transmission of Covid are also very effective at reducing influenza as well,” Black said.

Despite the slight increase in flu cases, Albany as a whole is still on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the flu.

“We’re very early in our flu season and Georgia is one of the few states that’s listed as moderate but we’re starting to see a gradual uptick and as the months go on, we expect to see the number probably go up. So now’s the time to get vaccinated if you so choose for influenza and those other diseases like Covid-19,” Black said.

Both Herendeen and Black said they would encourage people to start getting their vaccines, as the vaccine is covered by most insurances. There is no out-of-pocket cost for people to get a flu vaccine.