The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County is reporting this week a large increase in influenza (flu) activity in schools.
This is prompting health officials to call on the public to get their flu vaccine.
Flu activity typically peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May.
Yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.
In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness.
The flu can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as young children, the elderly and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk for serious complications from the flu. Some children are at especially high risk for flu-related complications: children less than 5 years old, American Indian and Alaskan Native children, and children with chronic health problems.
While rare, flu-associated pediatric deaths are reported each season, most often in unvaccinated children with underlying health conditions. Last season, six flu-associated pediatric deaths were reported in Florida, and all occurred in children who were not fully vaccinated. Flu vaccination can reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu.