TAMPA, Fla. - Doctors across Florida are starting to see an early uptick in flu cases especially among children, according to the CDC and Tampa pediatrics.
Hillsborough is one of 47 counties where confirmed flu cases are on the rise and one of eight counties where flu is already at moderate levels.
“This is the earliest we’ve seen in our office in the last 10 years,” said Dr. Cynthia Wood White, whose practice is located in south Tampa. “It’s been really bad over the last three weeks. We’ve been seeing a lot of cases of the flu. I think I saw five or six cases just yesterday afternoon.”
Wood White said most of her cases are among elementary school-aged kids and kids who attend daycare.
The surge is also happening at a time when demand has been especially high for the vaccine, and supply has struggled to keep up.
Unlike in previous years, the Hillsborough County School District notified parents last month that it would not be able to provide the free inoculations in school this year.
“There’s a much higher demand because the kids that were getting their flu shots at school are now coming into our office,” said Wood-White. “At times we’ve actually had to reschedule so that we could get our shipments in to give them their flu shots.”
Wood-White said her inventory is fully restocked but advised that it’s best to call ahead to your pediatrician’s office to make sure they have enough of the flu vaccine on-hand before going in.
Parents have other options as well, although the flu shot is not as readily available for children as it is for an adult.
For kids, she advises parents to talk to the pediatrician’s office, head to the county health center or check with an urgent care clinic.
“Currently our recommendation is to get the flu vaccine. It’s not 100 percent, it’d be awesome if it was, but right now that’s the best thing we have. The second recommendation is if your kids wake up sick you just need to keep them at home. I know it’s hard, but the flu is spread easily. It’s spread even more easily than the common cold,” said Dr. Wood White.