NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The flu is now widespread in almost every single state and according to the CDC, we're seeing a record breaking deadly flu season for children.
The CDC reports there have been twice as many pediatric flu deaths so far this year than at the same time last year. Two children in Tennessee have died from the flu so far and there have been eight deaths in Kentucky.
There's been a shift in the predominant strain, which is usually influenza A. This year it's influenza B, and influenza B tends to affect children more.
Pediatrician Doctor Mary Keown tells us children tend to have a more severe reaction to influenza B. She says its not too late for you to get vaccinated.
"Even if the flu vaccine isn't a perfect match there's great merit to getting the flu vaccine," Dr. Keown said, "It's like wearing a seat belt, it doesn't guarantee you won't get in car crash but less likely to be terribly hurt."
Also parents, do your part in preventing the flu from spreading. If your kid has flu-like symptoms, keep them away from other children.
"Lets say your first child has the flu, have grandma or an aunt keep the other kids to limit exposure," Dr. Keown said, "if you can't, make sure to wash your hands and keep the sick one apart from the other kids as much as you can."
The flu is very contagious. You should not send your kid back to school unless they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
The vaccine is recommended for everyone except infants under the age of 6 months. If you're interested in getting the flu shot, there are free vaccines available at most local health departments.