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Health experts are reminding us that yes, the flu season is here and it has already been deadly.

In 2020, health officials saw influenza cases drop due to coronavirus prevention measures but there has been an increase in cases in the past few weeks. As we head deeper into the winter months flu cases are on the rise nationwide. Four influenza deaths have already been reported so far this season in Alabama alone.

Dr. Ellen Eaton of UAB Hospital Infectious Diseases says that the flu season is back and ramping up again. She says that the peak is just beginning. During the 2020 flu season, the number of cases barely spiked in comparison to past years.  

“We also heard that we’ve had four deaths nationally including two pediatric deaths that were just announced this week. I personally did not see any in 2020, which is unusual for an infectious disease physician over the flu season. We usually see, on the order, thousands of hospitalizations; we usually see a fair number of deaths across the U.S. but also in Alabama.”  

Dr. Eaton says the symptoms in coronavirus and flu are mostly the same; body aches, sneezes, stuffy nose, and both are vaccine-preventable. She says that the holiday break from school and work is the perfect time to get the flu shot. 

“It’s a great time. Kids are out of school in communities so it’s a great time to go ahead and get vaccinated. It is not too late and certainly, it’s something you’ll want to talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned about Covid and or flu before you send them back to school for the new school year.” 

Dr. Eaton says the holiday break at home is the most important time to practice flu prevention because there are so many cases during that time. The number one preventable measure she adds is for you and your children to wash your hands before, during, and after the holiday family gatherings.