Real Flu Death Numbers Are A State Secret: Judge

‘Raw’ data on Pa. deaths from pneumonia, influenza is off-limits to news media, state court says | PLUS: Florida responds to rising flu cases

PENNLIVE – The Pennsylvania Department of Health doesn’t have to give a news media group its “raw” data on deaths from influenza and pneumonia in the state for 2019 and 2020, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled Tuesday.

That decision, outlined in an opinion by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, upholds a ruling the state Office of Open Records issued regarding the information request by Pittsburgh-based PublicSource.

Jubelirer agreed with the OOR that the data being sought is not yet in a form subject to public release under the state’s Right to Know Law.

PublicSource filed its request last year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It sought records for deaths in Pennsylvania from influenza and pneumonia by county from 2014 through May 21. 2020 as reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

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The health department referred PublicSource to a CDC web site that contains the information for 2015 to 2018.

It refused to release the 2019 and 2020 data, saying it was still being compiled before being sent to the CDC … READ MORE. 

Florida Department of Health Responds to Rise in Influenza Activity

Health Officer Urges Leon County Residents to Get Flu Vaccine Now

“The flu or influenza is a serious disease. It’s more than just a runny nose and sore throat. – Health Officer Claudia Blackburn

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Health in Leon County (DOH Leon) is urging residents to protect themselves, their families, and those around them by getting vaccinated against influenza as the county contends with concerning reports that higher education campuses and hospitals are seeing large numbers of students and others suffering from the flu.

According to DOH Leon Epidemiology and Disease Prevention Program investigators, during the fourth week of the 2021–22 influenza season (week 44), influenza and influenza-like illness activity increased across Leon County.

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Last week, the percent of influenza-positive laboratory results significantly increased as well as the percent of emergency department and urgent care center visits with discharge diagnoses that indicate influenza infection. Influenza seasons vary in timing, severity, and duration.

It is not possible to predict what the 2021–22 influenza season will be like in Leon County. Annual vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza and its potentially severe complications. The flu vaccine may be given at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

To help combat the increase in flu cases, DOH Leon is offering flu shots for everyone eligible at a drive-through clinic on Saturday, November 13 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. at:

Roberts & Stevens (R&S) Clinic
1515 Old Bainbridge Road
Tallahassee, FL 32303

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine.

Vaccination against the flu can make illness milder and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes, making it especially important for those at higher risk of complications, such as people over 65, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Some of those same groups are also at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

“The convergence of COVID-19 and flu season again, means that flu vaccinations are critical to reduce the overall burden of respiratory illnesses on the healthcare system and help protect communities,” said Health Officer Blackburn.

“Getting your flu shot is one more thing we know everyone can do right now to help keep themselves and their loved ones healthy, in addition to social distancing, thorough hand washing and wearing face coverings.”

In addition to vaccination, everyday precautions can help stop the spread of flu. Those measures include:

  • If you start running a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, unless you need medical care or necessities.
  • Covering your sneeze or cough with a tissue.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water. If unavailable, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can also be used.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially while in public places.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people.

DOH Leon offers flu vaccines for children ages 6 months to 18 years of age at no charge through the Vaccines for Children program. DOH-Leon also offers adult flu vaccines for $32.15 and high-dose flu vaccine for $69.15. Additionally, the flu vaccine is available at no charge to individuals who have Medicare, Capital Health Plan (CHP) or BCBS of Florida.

Call (850) 404-6403 for information.

People who have the flu often feel some or all these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (very tired)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
  • *It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Flu shots are widely available in Leon County. They are offered at most doctors’ offices, at major pharmacies and urgent care facilities. Use this link to find a close to home location near you. More information about flu is available online through http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/index.html and from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/flu.



Written by: Pamela Saulsby | Public Information Officer | 11.10.2021


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