Central Florida clinics report 230% spike in flu cases

Medical experts urge flu shot

ORLANDO, Fla. – Medical experts in Central Florida are urging families to take extra precautions after a recent spike in flu cases.

Since Thanksgiving, Centra Care locations across the area have reported a significant increase in cases compared to the same time in 2016.

"We're seeing about 230 percent more flu cases this last week, as of yesterday, compared to last year," Centra Care medical director Dr. Tim Hendrix said.

Patients with the flu can face a long recovery, which is why flu prevention is key.

"You can wash your hands (and) you can try to avoid people, but the vaccine is our only way to prevent getting the flu," Hendrix said.

This season, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is being called into question after a recent study in Australia showed that it was only 10 percent effective against the dominant H3N2 strain.

"They feel that their flu shot wasn't as effective with their circulating virus," Hendrix said. "How that applies in the U.S. may be completely different."

Hendrix urged caution when comparing the two countries and said it's still important to get the flu shot to protect against other strains of the virus.

"Yearly, we know the effectiveness is about 60 percent," Hendrix said. "The only thing we can do to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. There is nothing else."

Flu vaccines are available at all Centra Care locations across Central Florida.

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