Flu season picking up; more people getting flu shots

Deaths from flu-related complications and hospitalizations among children and the elderly remain high.

Flu activity spiked sharply across the United States this week, federal health officials reported Friday.

Flu vaccines are still available at Department of Public Health clinics located within state service centers.

Amy Schmitt is a registered nurse and reporter of infectious diseases at the Greene County Health Department.

This number reflects only those who have had lab-confirmed cases of influenza. Death rates fluctuate annually, but have gone as high as 49,000 in a single year, according to the CDC.

So far, 20 children have died from the influenza virus.

"The flu can make people really sick, and over the past few weeks there has been a dramatic rise in influenza activity", state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said.

There are still, however, a couple of differences in symptoms of colds and the flu. There is still time to get a flu shot to vaccinate against the three most common viruses, if you didn't get vaccinated in the fall.

While seasonal flu-related deaths of people older than 18 years of age are not reportable, those among children are reported.

Over 3,200 people tested have tested positive for the flu in Arkansas during this flu season.

While officials say that we are reaching a peak in cases, they want to remind families that flu season isn't over just yet. So anyone who hasn't gotten their flu shot yet should get their flu shot.

Still, the CDC says that the best way to protect yourself and others from influenza is to get vaccinated.

"Older adults, infants and those with substantial underlying medical problems have a higher risk of complications from influenza infection and should seek medical attention, including consideration for antiviral medications". "Other preventive measures include keeping your hands away from your face, sneezing/coughing into your elbow and staying home when you do not feel well, especially if you have a fever", stated Cunningham.

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