Navicent Health restricts age of visitors amid widespread flu in Georgia

Children younger than 12 years old are no longer allowed to visit the Navicent Health hospitals, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

The policy change comes amid the flu season and, the news release from Navicent Health said, the illness is primarily affecting young people.

The new visitation policy applies to the Medical Center, Navicent Health Baldwin, the Medical Center of Peach County and Navicent Health and Rehabilitation Hospital.

"Our policies and actions are designed to protect those at greatest risk during the flu season,” Dr. Chris Hendry, Navicent Health's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in the news release.

Georgia is one of 46 states to report widespread cases of the flu this year, according to the CDC website.

People with flu-like symptoms or cold-like symptoms and those who have recently had the flu are encouraged to stay at home, away from crowds and public places.

The peak of flu season can occur anywhere from late November through March.

The number of flu cases sharply increased during the final week of 2017, according to the CDC.

This year, the influenza A(H3N2) virus is predominating, according to CDC data. Flu vaccinations have been historically less effective for this virus than for other flu viruses. What's more, the CDC reports that past flu seasons in which this particular virus is widespread, there have been more hospitalizations and deaths reported in people at least 65 years old and younger children than compared to other age groups.

Laura Corley 744-4334; @Lauraecor