Flu cases in children on the rise before peak of season

Flu season peaks in February

INDIANAPOLIS - Cases of children being hospitalized with the flu are on the rise and flu season doesn’t even peak until around February.

Not only have there been more flu cases reported over the last few weeks, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more children have been hospitalized because of it across the country.

Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Christopher Belcher said nearly half a dozen children have been hospitalized recently at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent because of the flu. 

"You know, we've recognized for a long time that the elderly were at very high risk for hospitalization and death due to influenza. It turns out that the young children and the infants are at the same risk of hospitalization as the elderly are. So it's important that both groups get it, but it is important that everyone receives their influenza vaccine," Belcher said.

With more manufacturers this year, there are plenty of both flu shots and flu mist to meet the demand.

Because the flu does not typically peak until February, Belcher said there will likely be more spikes in flu cases before the flu season is over.

"There's really no such thing as too early or too late for a flu vaccine. And even sometimes when we've had a peak of influenza virus, there's a second peak. Either another strain comes around. And since the vaccines have three or four strains in them, it's often worthwhile to go ahead and get that flu vaccine regardless of where you are in the season," Belcher said.

Meanwhile, experts say to work on preventing the spread of the virus.

People should wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their eyes or nose and cough into their elbow.

This year, some manufacturers have added a fourth strain to the vaccine. All manufacturers will likely follow suit within the next couple of years.

There is also plenty of flu mist available which appears to work better for young children.

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