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Middle Tennessee Flu Deaths Surpass 2009-2010

Middle Tennessee Flu Deaths Surpass 2009-2010

CREATED Jan 24, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) – Doctors said 19 Middle Tennesseans have died from complications from the flu -- a death toll that now surpasses that of the 2009-2010 H1N1 global pandemic.

Vanderbilt University, which tracks an eight-county area, said that most of the deaths are among people age 41 to 64.

Among the latest victims is 46-year-old Patrick Sass of Greenbrier. Sass died Tuesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from complications from H1N1.

This year's prominent flu strain, H1N1, generally hits people in the prime of their life.

The father of three and his wife became sick just before Christmas. Not wanting to run up medical bills, his family said Sass brought his wife to the hospital but never sought treatment for himself. By New Year's, the 46-year-old had to be admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, never again to return home.

Sass had not had a flu shot.

The numbers show how much worse the flu season is this year compared with the entire 2012-2013 season when 11 people died and 437 were hospitalized.

Tennessee's peak flu months are usually January and February, even though flu season can stretch from late fall to spring.

Health officials said getting a flu shot is still the best protection from the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that most people over the age of 6 months get a flu shot.

Last week, Metro's Health Department announced it had run out of flu vaccine, but a number of other clinics around the area still have plenty on hand.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press/NewsChannel 5. All Rights Reserved.)