The Associated Press
ATLANTA — The number of people hospitalized with flu symptoms in metro Atlanta has soared in recent weeks, the latest sign of a widespread flu outbreak in the state.
During a recent four-week period, 244 people were hospitalized in metro Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported. Two people have died so far.
During the same four-week period last year, there were just eight hospitalizations, heath department spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said.
During the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, there were 127 hospitalizations during the same four-week period, she said.
The hospitalizations underscore the severity of the flu, which is striking Georgia harder this season than at any time in the past decade, health officials said.
They also represent a dramatic increase over the flu season a year ago, which was considered a mild one for flu activity, said Dr. Patrice Harris, director of Fulton County Health Services and a district health director.
In Fulton County, 2,606 doses of vaccine are on hand and are being distributed at health clinics throughout the county, Harris said. She said she's heard reports of some doctor's offices and retailers running short on vaccine.
However, "if you look at the overall availability in the county, there's no shortage," she said. "It just depends on where you go."
Fulton County officials are urging residents to get a flu vaccine if they haven't already. It's not too late to do so, she said.
On Tuesday, the county was giving its employees another chance to get the vaccine at work.
"We're just offering it again for our staff because we've had an increased request for it," Harris said.
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