The flu is spreading in the Tampa Bay area, prompting doctors to encourage people to get the flu vaccine.
Flu levels are now higher than they were at this time in past flu seasons, according to the Florida Department of Health. Doctors are seeing notable increases in the southeastern part of Florida and in children less than 18 years old.
While increases in flu activity were found statewide in week 51, the majority of counties continued to report mild influenza activity.
Twelve new outbreaks of influenza were reported, including seven with laboratory evidence of influenza. A total of 59 influenza outbreaks have been reported so far this season.
No new influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in week 51. Children, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk for complications from influenza infection. Influenza vaccination can be life-saving in children.
It's not too late to get your flu vaccine. People who have not yet been vaccinated for the 2018-19 season should do so as soon as possible. Influenza vaccines are safe and are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from influenza and its potentially severe complications.
In addition to getting vaccinated, the Florida Department of Health also recommends you take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water (if soap is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer)
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• If you do get sick, stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication)