TAMPA, Fla. — The start of flu season is less than a month away, but doctors in central Florida are already seeing a huge increase in the amount of cases.
By now, most of us can recognize the signs of the flu — high fever, aches and pains, cough and fatigue.
"It’s always best to stay home. If you’re sick, your kids are sick, don’t send them to school,” said Nancy Epps, a health clinician at Tampa General Hospital.
She says typically, cases start popping up in October.
"October still pretty early when we think of the peak being in January and February,” said Epps.
TGH is already seeing cases trickling in, but Epps says it’s not widespread in our community. But, in central Florida Advent Health says doctors over the last week have seen a 300% increase in the amount of flu cases.
It’s one reason Epps says you need to get your vaccine now.
"We always like people to get vaccinated before it shows up in the community,” she said. “Because from the time you have your vaccine it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity.”
It also helps protect high risk people like children, pregnant women and the elderly from getting the virus.
The flu vaccine is typically 50% to 60% efficient and it’s determined by the flu season in Australia. Epps says you should get it, even if you don’t think you need it.
"It might not give you 100% protection but it’s the best prevention that we have,” she said.
News reports half way across the globe report flu cases spiked early which could be a precursor of what’s to come here.