The latest statewide figures released Friday by the Arizona Department of Health Services said 7,978 cases of flu were reported so far this flu season, compared with 834 during the same period a year earlier, an 857 percent increase.
With the flu season in full swing, the US may be in for one of the sickest winters in years, Combetta pointed out.
The first was a 4-year-old boy from Montgomery County.
ODH also reports 1,750 new confirmed flu-associated hospitalizations in OH during the first week of January, a significant increase over 925 reported during the last week of December.
Flu season begins in October, and typically peaks between December and February.
A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications.
In Cuyahoga County, there have been two flu-related deaths, including a 70-year-old woman.
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ODH recommends that people get the flu vaccine, which can prevent against certain strains of the flu. She said this flu season is abnormal.
Schneider said the key to surviving the flu season without getting ill is to wash hands often, get the flu vaccine and exercise isolation from the public when you are sick with the flu.
"The virus we're giving them is dead, it's virtually impossible to get the flu from a vaccine", de Lota said. A study also done on flu vaccination said that it can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza.
The CDC advises people 6 months and older get vaccinated.
To be effective, the drugs must be taken in 12 to 48 hours from onset of symptoms, which include cough, muscle aches and fever. The vaccination is available at most healthcare providers' offices, local health departments and retail pharmacies. Another factor is a fear of getting the flu from the vaccine.
Dr. Cara Christ, the department's director, says parents should make sure their children are vaccinated and keep them home from school if they have flu-like symptoms.
The antiviral medications work best when started within two days of the onset of symptoms; even after two days, these medications can be beneficial.