JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sixteen children died this week from the flu, bringing the total number of pediatric flu-related deaths to 53 this flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
A Jacksonville pediatrician told News4Jax that this year has been the worst he's seen in a while, and advised parents to act fast if their children get sick.
Carithers Pediatric Group has been flooded with sick children, many of them with the flu.
"We've been getting slammed for the last few weeks. A lot of flu -- both A and B," said pediatrician Dr. Tom Connolly. "The clinic has been working overtime hours. It's been a busy January for us with the flu."
Connolly said the best thing you can do is bring your child in as soon as you see symptoms because, if you wait too long, the child can't use Tamiflu.
He said he's seen so many cases, the pediatrician's office is running out of the flu vaccination for older children but it still has plenty for babies at least 6 months old.
Connolly said he's even seen children who've had the flu twice.
"It's everybody we're seeing. Babies are getting it from their older siblings," he said. "It's really the school-age kids and high school schoolers are the ones that are just recycling among everybody."
According to the Florida Department of Health, from Jan. 20 through Jan. 27, 82 outbreaks were reported in 33 counties in Florida -- a total of 241 this flu season. The CDC also reported that flu-like illnesses are at an all-time high in the states of Florida and Georgia.
Connolly said one important thing to look out for is your child's breathing. He said if breathing becomes rapid, take your child to the emergency room immediately.
"If the child was breathing very fast, it would be almost like 50 to 60 breaths per minute," Connolly said. "Retraction you're seeing -- the collarbone, the ribs -- every time they breathe, that kid has to get seen quickly."
If you or your child has any flu-like symptoms, do not wait, doctors said. Go to the doctor and take your loved ones immediately.
Although no pediatric flu-reported deaths have been seen in Northeast Florida, two were reported last week in Florida. That's a total of five children who have died this flu season in Florida.