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While health officials in the United States wait to see just how bad a public health challenge COVID-19 will pose, they still have to deal with an all-too-familiar challenge: flu.

It's been a bad flu season. Not the worst ever, but bad.

"It started very early this year," says Emily Martin, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collecting statistics about flu.

A woman gives a man a flu shot in the arm.
Daylina Miller/WUSF Public Media

A Senate committee Thursday approved a controversial proposal that would allow pharmacists to test and treat people for influenza. The vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee sends the bill (SB 714) to the full Senate.

Florida health officials say they can’t release information about how many people have been tested for COVID-19, the coronavirus, but have confirmed there have been no confirmed cases in the state. On this week's roundup we looked at what listeners need to know about the virus, and the flu this year along with the ongoing fight over Amendment 4.

Global health organizations have put themselves on high alert over the coronavirus, a deadly illness that originated in China, and has made it's

The first week of flu season in Florida this year was a tough one. Health officials documented more cases than they saw during the 2017-2018 season, which was one of the worst on record.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is observing National Influenza Vaccination Week on Wednesday, Dec. 4 with free flu shots for residents.

Efforts To Move The Needle On Flu Shot Rates Get Stuck

Nov 22, 2019

It’s free and available everywhere. Yet most Americans skip the annual flu shot ― with the number of dispensed vaccines barely changed in the past decade, despite government removal of cost and access obstacles. 

Pharmacists Could Get Power To Treat Flu, Strep

Nov 14, 2019

In an attempt to increase access to health care, a House panel on Wednesday approved a proposal that would authorize pharmacists to test patients for --- and treat --- the flu and strep throat. 

October marks the start of a new flu season, with a rise in likely cases already showing up in Louisiana and other spots, federal statistics show.

The advice from federal health officials remains clear and consistent: Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, especially if you're pregnant or have asthma or another underlying condition that makes you more likely to catch a bad case.

The line of students stretched for more than 100 yards and wound down a flight of stairs as University of South Florida students tried to beat three other Florida universities at getting their flu shots on Wednesday.

USF joined for the first time with Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida to encourage students to be immunized. They dubbed the competition "4 U's Fight The Flu." 

We're well into flu season and South Floridians are feeling it.

The Florida Department of Health tracks new flu cases and outbreaks, and according to its weekly report, flu is on the rise in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. And while most of Florida is reporting new flu cases, the rates appear stable in Broward and even dropping in Palm Beach.

Experts say the number of flu cases could rise over the holidays as people share germs along with turkey dinners. A flu shot and good hygiene practices are crucial to staying healthy.

The flu season is not yet in full swing, but more than one-third of U.S. parents already plan to skip flu shots for their kids this year, according to a report published Monday by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan.

According to the study, 34 percent of parents are “unlikely” to get the flu vaccine for their children.

U.S. health regulators have approved the first new type of flu drug in two decades.

Wednesday's approval of Xofluza for people age 12 and older comes ahead of the brunt of this winter's flu season.

All three of the flu outbreaks that have been reported in Florida so far this season occurred in Hillsborough County, according to the state.

Florida Blue has teamed up with Walgreens to offer free flu shots every Thursday in October from 10 a.m. until noon on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the flu shot.

But following a winter in which more than 80,000 people died from flu-related illnesses in the U.S. — the highest death toll in more than 40 years — infectious disease experts are ramping up efforts to get the word out.

"Flu vaccinations save lives," Surgeon General Jerome Adams told the crowd at an event to kick off flu vaccine awareness last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "That's why it's so important for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year."

An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter — the disease's highest death toll in at least four decades.

It's almost flu season, and young Floridians are not as protected as they should be. According to a new analysis, almost half of Florida's high school students reported they didn't get a flu shot within the past year.

"I would say I'm a bit frustrated," said Dr. Wissam Al Khoury, the lead researcher on the study, Demographic Differences in Flu Vaccination among Florida’s High School Students: Evidence from 2017 Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which he recently presented at a conference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Pharmacy Panel Critiques Legislature Over Flu Tests

Apr 3, 2018

A state pharmacy board on Monday criticized the Florida Legislature for not passing a bill that would have allowed Florida pharmacists to test and treat people for the flu and strep throat.

This nasty flu season, which has been worsening for months, may finally be leveling off.

William Brawley / Flickr

It's already been one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Now, you can add a late-blooming, but hard-hitting, allergy season to the list of reasons for some Florida residents' sinus miseries.

Florida Department of Health

While the flu is causing problems around the country, the number of students and teachers infected in Pinellas County has increased this year.   

Pensacola ER Nurse In Viral Video: 'Wash Your Stinking Hands'

Feb 5, 2018

A nurse's Facebook rant about the "cesspool of funky flu" in a Pensacola area emergency room waiting areas is getting a lot of attention.

The flu has forced one school in Pinellas County to close and others in the Tampa Bay area to send warnings home to parents.

A particularly bad flu virus is burning through Florida and health officials say people can still protect themselves—and others.

“Getting vaccinated can prevent flu in yourself, but it also may prevent flu in people who you are not infecting,” says Dr. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Especially for young children or people who are at high risk of flu, it's very important that people around them are vaccinated.”

Central Florida is seeing a spike in flu cases. Florida Hospital’s urgent care Centra Care locations saw 1,200 cases last week.

Florida Department of Health

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

This year, the flu season is expected to be among one of the worst to hit the United States.   

Influenza season is at its peak nationwide, and Florida is no exception. That's obvious on the map at the Centers for Disease Control website.

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