Early, aggressive flu season impacting emergency rooms across metro Atlanta

ATLANTA — Flu season has started here in Georgia and the state is already in the high range for the number of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This early and aggressive flu season has caught many off guard.

Metro hospitals are now handling a surge of sick patients, especially children.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan has learned that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and other hospitals in the system are dealing with an overflow of children the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

Normally with kids back in school, CHOA gets a bit of a break this time of year. But with the flu and other viral infection running amok it’s just the opposite.

“It’s been this constant surge of patients coming to the emergency department,” CHOA infectious disease specialist Dr. Matthew Linam said.

Linam said they are treating hundreds of young patients each week at their hospitals and urgent care center for the flu and other viral illnesses.

He said with masking and social distancing lifted, the flu is easily transmitted.


Georgia is now second in the nation for flu activity according to the CDC.

“We have had two mild flu seasons so that could make us ripe for a sever season this year,” said Dr. Carla Black, with the CDC.

Black said over the last 10 years, the flu has been especially hard on ethnic minorities due to less vaccine coverage, access to medical care and underlying medical problems, among other reasons.

“We found hospitalizations due to the flu were 80% higher in Black adults, compared to white adults,” Black said.

At Dunwoody Pharmacy, they’re giving 60-80 vaccine shots a week. But they would like to do more.

“We are trying to get as many people as we can immunized for the upcoming flu season,” said Joanne Smith the Dunwoody Pharmacy.

That may have spared a long wait for sick children and their parents at the hospital.

“I would say the vast majority of kids showing up with the flu are not vaccinated yet,” Linam said.

Linam told Regan that many of the children are offered a flu shot after arriving at the hospital.