Flu season has hit Georgia hard and early, and Savannah residents are encouraged to make appointments to get the now-available flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weekly influenza map shows Georgia leading the U.S. in positive flu cases, a significant shift after flu activity was unusually low in 2020 and 2021.
Explanations for the unusually low flu activity pointed toward lockdown measures implemented to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. With those restrictions lifted, Dr. Lawton Davis, health director for the Coastal Health District, said the U.S. is predicted to have a potentially bad flu season this year.
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"Most of the health experts feel that the reason we didn't have a very significant flu, or RSV season, back in 2020 and 2021 is that everybody was practicing those social distancing mitigation practices like wearing a mask and watching washing your hands and staying out of crowds, etc. and all that is pretty much gone by the wayside now," Davis said.
Davis said hospitals in the Coastal Health District are seeing an increase in activity in both influenza and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus), particularly with infants and young children. Doctors recommend children 6 months and up receive the vaccine. Some children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses for best protection.
In Chatham County, the Coastal Health District is hosting drive-thru vaccination clinics, with two upcoming clinics on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the Savannah Civic Center and the Georgia Tech Savannah Campus on Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
To prepare for flu season and stay safe, Davis recommended the three Ws: "Watch your distance, wash your hands and wear a mask when you're out and about.
"Stay home if you're sick and coughing. Cover your costume sneezes. All those things that we've talked about the years are still very effective."
Laura Nwogu is the quality of life reporter for Savannah Morning News. Contact her at LNwogu@gannett.com. Twitter: @lauranwogu_
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Georgia sees high flu case rate as Chatham opens vaccine clinics