TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida could see a record breaking flu season this year.
Seventy-one outbreaks of the flu have been reported so far and peak flu season is just around the corner.
Nationwide there have been 87,000 hospitalizations and an estimated 4,800 deaths from the flu this season according to the CDC.
In Florida there have been a number of pediatric deaths, in one case a 35-year-old man died.
“Everybody is at risk for influenza. It is very, very contagious,” said Martha DeCastro with the Florida Hospital Association.
The 2017-2018 flu season was the worst Florida had seen in a decade.
DeCastro said indications are that this year could break the record.
“The number of cases has peaked early so they're considering this somewhat of a crisis this year,” said DeCastro.
Tallahassee Doctor John Mackay said if you get sick with the flu, there are some indicators you may need additional medical attention.
“Difficulty breathing, vomiting where you can't keep fluids down, those are all good reasons to head to the ER and get checked over,” said Dr. Mackay.
But medical experts argue the best way to avoid getting sick is to get vaccinated.
Flu vaccinations take about two weeks to kick in, but health experts say it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
And getting vaccinated is easy.
“You can go to Publix and get one for free and they'll give you a $10 gift card so you can go do some shopping afterwards. CVS, Walgreens, they're all making flu shots readily available,” said DeCastro.
In most cases your health insurance should cover the cost.
For those without insurance, contact your county health department.
In addition to the vaccination, health experts say taking simple steps like washing your hands frequently and avoiding large crowds can help keep you flu free and keep you from spreading the virus if you are sick.