Doctors urge flu shot amid unusually high, severe flu season in Alabama

Flu shot
Flu shot(Gray)
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 5:22 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Flu season is here and it’s time to start fighting against it.

Alabama is seeing an unusually high and severe flu season across the state, especially in children. The Alabama Department of Public Health says this is the highest flu activity the state has seen this early in the flu season since 2009, the H1N1 season.

Outpatient pediatric offices, already short-staffed coming out of the pandemic and facing daily medication shortages, are bearing the brunt of this outbreak. “Outpatient visits for influenza increased over 10-fold between September and October and have shown no signs of slowing in the first five days of November,” said Nola Ernest, MD, Ph.D., FAAP, outpatient pediatrician in Enterprise, AL and president of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The highest number of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness are in young people, ages 5-24.”

While typically self-limited, influenza can result in severe complications in persons of any age but is especially severe in young children. Hospitalization can result from dehydration and difficulty breathing, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), respiratory failure, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Benjamin Estrada, MD, FAAP, pediatric infectious disease specialist at USA Health, urged Alabama families to take steps immediately to prevent influenza infection.

“We encourage parents to take the necessary preventative measures to protect their children, themselves and others through strategies that we know are effective, including influenza vaccination for everyone older than six months, hand-washing, and mask-wearing in crowded environments or when someone is sick at home,” Estrada said. ”Contact your pediatrician, family physician, or county health department to find out more about how to get a flu vaccine for your family.

Most people can get the flu vaccine at no cost with health insurance.

Not reading this story on the WSFA News App? Get news alerts FASTER and FREE in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store!