Doctors urging all, especially children and elderly, to get flu shots

Importance of flu vaccines

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Here’s a warning from health care experts that they want you to take seriously: get your flu vaccination, especially if you’re a child or elderly.

Now that it’s flu season, vaccinations are available and something doctors strongly encourage people to get.

At the end of the last flu season, there were 151 flu-related deaths in Georgia, a number that exploded compared to the 16 deaths the previous two seasons combined.

One contributing factor to those deaths is that the flu influenza virus is ever-evolving, a moving target for those creating vaccines.

“Is the vaccine for influenza perfect? No. It is a very well educated guess, where bright men and women say this is what we think it’s going to look like," Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine for St. Joseph’s/Candler Dr. John Rowlett said. “But the vaccine changes a little bit each year because the virus continually changes.”

Rowlett said already this year he’s admitted 21 children under the age of 10 with influenza.

Children, along with the elderly, are the most vulnerable populations and encouraged to get the vaccine each year.

As people get vaccines year to year, they can have a cumulative effect on their immune systems.

“The more times you’ve had the immunization, the more shots you’ve had over your life, the less likely you are to become affected in a year that the vaccine is not quite so perfect,” Rowlett said.

He also pointed out that the vaccinations are now widely covered by insurance companies because they would rather pay for the shot than a trip to the intensive care unit.

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