Flu cases continue to rise in Florida

- All 67 Florida counties are currently reporting flu activity, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The virus has been rampant this season, affecting every state in the country except Hawaii.

On Thursday, at the CVS Minute Clinic on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, several local first responders got their flu shots to show how quick and easy it is to get vaccinated.

"I walked in, paid for the flu shot and I was out in less than six minutes," said State Fire Marshall Jimmy Patronis, who was vaccinated a week prior and organized Thursday's event. "As important as it is for our first responders to be there when we need them, it's also [important] for moms and dads and kids to take advantage of modern technology and vaccines."

Dylan Winnik, a 12-year-old boy in West Palm Beach, died this week after getting sick from the flu, according to his parents.

They said for two days prior, they thought their healthy 7th grader simply had a cold.

If confirmed, Winnik would be the fourth Florida child to die from the virus this season.

"The vaccine may have saved his life," said Patronis. "The parents will never be able to hold that child again, but the parents are now passionate, making a plea to please, get your flu shot."

At least 30 children nationwide have lost their lives from this season's virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Today in my history class, we had seven girls out of the 20 girls in my class all absent, so that made me a little nervous," said high school sophomore Madeleine Gallagher, who stopped by the CVS on Thursday as a precaution to get vaccinated.

Gallagher, like many others who have gotten the shot, said the process was quick and easy.

"I didn't hurt. I usually have kind of a low tolerance for things," said Gallagher.

Flu cases are expected to continue to rise through February and into March, according to the CDC.

There is not a current shortage of the vaccine or medication used for treatment, known as Tamiflu.

According to health officials, in addition to the flu vaccine, people can protect themselves against the virus by avoiding close contact with those who are sick, washing their hands often and trying not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid spreading germs.

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