Rosemary Blackmon, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said flu patients have filled hospital emergency rooms across the state, but they have been able to handle the load without using tents or other unusual measures that have been needed in other states.
At East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, spokesman John Atkinson said the regional hospital has had 177 confirmed cases. There were 112 in December and 44 so far in January, which means it could outpace December, he said. Patients have ranged from eight days old to 94 years old.
The vast majority of the cases in Alabama have been influenza A, which is covered by this season's flu shot, Williamson said. So far, Alabama still has plenty of the flu vaccine available and an adequate supply of Tamiflu to treat the illness, he said.
Despite having more illness this season than last, Williamson said the department has not yet seen a rise in deaths. Alabama usually records about 900 deaths per year from flu and pneumonia, he said.