NewsRegion N Palm Beach CountyPalm Beach Gardens


Florida health dept. reports first death of flu season

Posted at 7:35 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 21:59:24-05

This is not what we all want to hear but the flu season is off to a very fast and early start across the country.

In Florida, the incoming flu cases are steady. However, doctors say it's still too early to tell how bad the season will get here.

Unfortunately, the Florida Department of Health reports the first flu-related death of the season -- a child who did not get their flu shot this year. With cases are steadily increasing, doctors are urging people to get their flu shot.

We asked people coming in and out of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center whether or not they got their flu shot this year.

"Yes," said Brian Moogan, a longtime Florida resident. "I watched a few people get the flu and it was absolutely miserable!"

Moogan says he swears by it.

"I haven't gotten it since I got the shot 10 years ago," he said.

Others like Cathereen Johnson fear the needles and the side-effects from the flu shot but she ensures that her own children are vaccinated.

"Actually, I don't think I'm gonna get my shot this year. Maybe one day when I'm not too chicken to get," she joked. "I have a 9 and an 11 year old and I did get them their shots. I make sure that they are vaccinated since they are out and about at school.”

Either way, Dr. Jaime Snarski at the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center emergency room doesn't want you to take your chances with this flu season.

"It did start a couple of months ago with us seeing cases of flu," she said. "Hopefully it won't be a bad flu season, but it's too early to tell right now."

The CDC says the flu is hitting earlier and faster but doctors say that's not so much the case here in Florida yet.

"Actually last year, we saw flu throughout the year -- granted it was less in the summer -- but we saw it throughout the entire year," said Dr. Snarski.

Florida Health releases weekly reports and the latest one details a flu-related death of an unvaccinated child. Click here to read the latest report.

"The elderly and children get the flu much worse than the normal healthy adult, also pregnant women," said Dr. Snarski.
The CDC is reporting one severe strain this year called H3N2 and the New England Journal of Medicine is estimating that current vaccines are only 10 percent effective.

Luckily, this particular strain hasn't quite reached Florida yet according to the latest report.

"They can change every year, they can mutate and it's just something that we just can't always predict," said Dr. Snarski.

As for all other strains, vaccines are performing much better.

"Typically how vaccines are made is they use the strains from previous years flu to try to have the best guess they can for what is going to be the most prevalent flu this year," said Dr. Snarski.

So don't skip the shot. It's still your best protection against infection.

"It is really important to get vaccinated and get vaccinated early so at least you don't have to deal with this at all," said Dr. Snarski.

People who have the flu experience some of all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

One of the major flu vaccine manufacturers created an interactive map for flu shot locations. Click here to find a location near you.