AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Local medical care centers have seen a major increase in flu patients since the beginning of October, and the numbers are expected to keep going up.
“The season is just starting and we already have a high positivity rate, so I am thinking that it’s going to be much worse,” said Dr. Ingrid Camelo, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
Influenza cases in patients at CHOG is a big concern.
Dr. Camelo said that the initial positivity rate there was around 15%, and this week it has almost doubled to 27.5%.
“Children that are premature, children that have any neuromuscular diseases, cystic fibrosis, asthma, things like that – those are the children that really really need to be vaccinated because they are the highest risk,” she said. “Children less than one year of age are at the highest risk for having complications from influenza.”
Medical professionals at local urgent care centers have noticed the spike too.
They said flu cases were unusually high even during the summer.
“It wasn’t a constant thing, but it is more than normal that we saw during the summer months,” said Shametrial Foreman, a nurse practitioner at Physicians United Urgent Care. “And now that the official flu season has actually started, there has not been a decline in those numbers since the summer.”
Influenza A is the most common strain doctors are seeing, and they said the average age of the patients is all over the board.
They’re stressing the importance of getting tested and vaccinated.
“The sooner you get the vaccination, the more likely it is to be effective. It takes usually a week or two weeks to become effective,” said Dr. Lucas Davis, an M.D. at MedNow Urgent Care. “Tamiflu and Xofluza, you need to initiate as soon as possible. So, you need to make sure you’re getting tested within the first 48 hours so we can start you on therapy if needed.”
Adults and children six months or older can get a flu vaccination at any local doctor’s office or pharmacy.