ORLANDO, Fla. – The number of flu cases in Central Florida has doubled in recent weeks.
Florida Hospital Centra Care medical director Tim Hendrix said doctors reported 52 flu cases last week, up from 26.
"It's not a lot when you compare it to the thousand, 1,500 patients we saw at peak season last year, but it is a good indicator that the flu is out there and we are getting into that season," Hendrix said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 180 pediatric deaths caused by influenza for the 2017-2018 flu season.
Eighty percent of those children were not immunized. Hendrix said children are among the most vulnerable groups during flu season.
[STORY: Here's how to get your free yearly flu shot with News 6 and Centra Care]
"The way the flu spreads in our community is vertically from our kids from schools," Hendrix said."You're more likely to get it from your child when they bring it home from school."
For the last two years, the alternative FluMist vaccine was taken off the shelves, but this year it's been accepted by the CDC.
"They're allowing it this year -- the manufacturers (have) shown that they have increased effectiveness," Hendrix said.
Reintroducing the nasal spray vaccine has come with some controversy, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending the shot over the mist.
"Flu shot first, mist if you need to," Hendrix said.
On Wednesday, News 6 will partner with Centra Care to host a phone bank along with several free flu shot events in several Central Florida locations.