Fighting off the flu - FOX 13 News

Fighting off the flu

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

We know this flu season has been a bad one so far, and we know that children and the elderly are most at risk. However, federal officials are stressing right now that we all need to be armed. And we all need to do our part to not spread the virus.

We are now about half way through this flu season and already leaders with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention are saying this is shaping up to be worse-than-average season. It has been particularly bad among the elderly.

Health officials expect to see both the number of hospitalizations and deaths rise in the next week or so as the flu epidemic progresses. That is why federal officials are working right now to get more flu medicines. The FDA is now letting Tamiflu's maker distribute 2 million additional doses of capsules that have an older version of the package. They say it is not outdated, and they expect it will be needed.

"We're seeing a very high hospitalization rate for the elderly this year for flu. For laboratory proven flu, it's 82 per 100,000 people 65 years of age and older," stated Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director for the Centers for Disease Control.

About 90 percent of flu deaths are among the elderly, the very young, and people with other health problems. If you are sick and in one of these groups, see a doctor. The CDC says many people are not getting the prompt treatment they need.

The two drugs that can cut the risk of death are Tamiflu and Relenza. They must be started within 48 hours of the first symptom.

It is not too late to get your flu shot. CDC officials say they cannot stress this enough: If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home. Also, keep your children home from school and do your part to not spread the virus.

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