CDC: 39 children dead from flu in 2019-2020 season

Influenza Virus Vaccine
Influenza Virus Vaccine(source: WTOC)
Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 at 10:21 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The flu has hit Georgia and South Carolina especially hard over the past months.

Doctors say children are suffering the most in this outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control says that more than 30 children have died this flu season.

“This is an unusual flu season, we’re seeing a lot of flu cases earlier than we usually are, more severe than we usually do, and a mix of flu type A and flu type B that’s not typical,” said Dr. Ben Spitalnick with Pediatric Associates of Savannah.

Dr. Spitalnick says his office has been busier than ever. He explained what we’re seeing locally.

“There’s both and A and B strain, in Savannah, mostly an A strain, the problem is the B strain is not a good match to this year’s flu vaccine,” Dr. Spitalnick said.

In fact, this year’s flu vaccine is only 60% effective for type B, but he says parents still need to make sure children get the vaccine.

“You still can catch the flu, if you’ve had the vaccine, it will be much less severe and less risk of hospitalization.”

That risk is what worries one Savannah mother who says she’s seen the flu run rampant in her children’s school.

“It definitely concerns me more,” she said. "He’s home with me, but my two oldest ones at school, definitely I tell them to wash their hands, cough in their elbows, try not to get too close to anybody and touching things.

Dr. Spitalnick said usually at this time in the season there are only about 15 deaths, but the weekly influenza report says activity overall is declining.

We checked in with local hospitals to see what they’re doing about the high number of flu reports in Georgia and South Carolina.

Doctors at Memorial Health tell us they’re sticking to what they know, things like Tamiflu, Tylenol, and good old fashioned rest and fluids.

They say newer drugs are supposed to do the same job in fewer doses. But they’re staying away from them right now.

“We have not been using Xofluza and the main reason we haven’t been using the Xofluza is secondary to cost," said Dr. Jay Goldstein, a Doctor at Memorial Health. "We believe it is about a $150- I’m not sure if the insurance will cover that or not versus Tamiflu, which is about $50.”

Overall doctors say no matter the treatment, they aren't miracle drugs.

They say your best protection is still to get the flu vaccine.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.