Free flu shots after bug becomes widespread in parts of Florida

Flu cases on the rise locally

TAMPA, Fla. - Local doctors are seeing a spike in flu cases in Florida, and this year young people seem to be most at risk.

At only 18 months old, Isabella Keller is recovering from the flu at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. Mom Dominique brought her in when she started acting lethargic and dehydrated.

"I had just recently put her in daycare two weeks ago. That was hard for me, to put her in day care, because you know there’s just so many reasons, kids get sick all the time," she said.

Isabella wasn't alone. Doctors are seeing a spike in admissions.  Doctor Antoinette Spoto-Cannons works at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.  She said, “A lot of young kids - especially those under two -- have been admitted for flu, and more so in the past two weeks."

Doctor Kim Gibson is the medical director for MedExpress. "The biggest thing we’re seeing this year is the high fever. We are not seeing elderly patients present with high fevers. We're seeing a lot of school-age children, pre-school children and sometimes we'll see their parents as well."

Both doctors advise: get to the doctor quick.  Doctor Cannons said, “We are seeing a rise, so if anyone starts to see flu-like symptoms, the earlier they get to the doctor the better.  If we are going to treat, we're going to treat within the first 48 hours to really have any benefit.”

And Doctor Gibson says it’s still not too late to get your flu vaccine. It usually takes two weeks for the body to build up immunity after the shot but it should work to, "keep you from getting the full-blown flu. If you've ever talked to someone who had the full blown flu, their hair hurts. Everything hurts. They can't rest, their body is tender to the touch. So for someone to get a lesser version of that or nothing is what the flu shot is for."

Dominique knows how scary it can be. After three days in St. Joseph’s, her daughter is finally drinking on her own, a big sign of recovery.

MedExpress Clinics decided to offer free flu vaccines to everyone starting Monday.

The list of locations for Florida can be found at http://medexpress.com/local-centers/florida.aspx?src=head .

To check flu activity in your county go to http://www.doh.state.fl.us/disease_ctrl/epi/swineflu/reports/reports.htm#countyinfluenzaactivity .

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