ATLANTA — Flu cases are already so bad that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is adding a new color to its flu outbreak map. Georgia is now purple among the states with a “very high” activity level.
Executive Director of Health and Community Education at Piedmont Healthcare, Dr. Jayne Morgan said she sees a few factors contributing to the intense flu season.
“We certainly are seeing a more intense flu season, and certainly we're seeing that here in the south as well, this whole southern crescent. When you line up the rate of flu, and the rate of flu vaccine uptake, we see an inverse relationship," she said. "In fact, the south has the lowest rate of flu vaccination of any other area in the United States."
In the CDC's flu map for week 44, Georgia and all surrounding states, except Florida, are currently purple.
According to the health nonprofit organization, Kaiser Family Foundation, last year, 46.5% of Georgians got the flu vaccine, making Georgia among the lowest in the nation.
It was a similar story with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We certainly had a difficult time as well getting people over that 50% threshold of being vaccinated, even getting that first series of vaccinations," she said. "So I think where you live makes a difference with regard to the people in your village, in your environment, whether they are vaccinated or not vaccinated with their fallen public health measures."
The CDC map shows that on Christmas last year, Georgia had the highest number of flu cases in the south.
Morgan believes this could be the case this holiday season unless more people start taking more precautions.
"Keep a mask with you. There may be indoor settings as the weather has gotten colder, and we are more and more indoors where those situations might be crowded, where you're surrounded by people with unknown vaccination status," she recommended.