Flu outbreak in Florida continues to grow

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The flu has left two Florida children dead since the start of the year.

Photo: Pixabay

State health officials say this year’s season is worse than any they’ve seen.

The State Department of Health says it has never seen this many flu out breaks this early in the flu season.

Just since January 1st, there have been 34 outbreaks throughout the state. Since the season began in October, there have been more than 100.

The virus has left two children dead from flu-related complications.

It’s why Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis used his flu shot as an opportunity to spread awareness.

“These different types of vaccines that we've been able to introduce into health care have increased the lifespans of people, and at the end it's good for health," said Patronis.

The vaccine remains the most effective way to prevent yourself from getting sick.

“It's not going to guarantee you not getting sick, but it is absolutely better than the alternative" Patronis said.

Young children and the elderly are at the highest risk of dying from the virus. Ninety-four percent of the outbreaks in the state this year have been in facilities serving the at-risk populations like daycare centers and retirement homes.

Hospitals say they aren’t doing anything different this year than they would do any other flu season.

Martha DeCastro is the Vice President for Nursing and Clinical Care Policy for the Florida Hospital Association. She says hospitals take precautions every flu season.

“If they're admitted, they'd be placed on isolation with special precautions that are recommended by the CDC," said DeCastro.

In addition to the vaccine, DeCastro says avoiding large crowds and frequently sanitizing your hands can help you avoid coming down with the bug.

People remain at risk until the end of flu season, which is in May. Many pharmacies offer the vaccination at no cost.