Flu death toll rises to six as virus 'now circulating more intensely'

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine

"It is recommended that people still get the flu vaccination if they have not already", said infectious disease expert Dr. David Cennimo of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

The health department tracks reports of flu-like illnesses across the county in hospitals, assisted-living centers and schools. Typically, the Atlantic province begins seeing a surge of flu in late December, following the close-quarters socializing of the Christmas holidays when the virus finds lots of hosts to infect.

In contrast, H1N1 tends to target children and younger adults more than seniors - and flu-trackers like Skowronski say this season is no exception. H3N2, the strain largely responsible for last year's outbreak, has so far been less common than the H1N1 strain.

"For those of us who are not infected yet and haven't gotten the shot, you should get the flu shot now", Melnick said.

Both these groups are susceptible to swine flu.

A young child who died after testing positive for influenza is the first pediatric-flu associated death in Riverside County this flu season, health officials said Wednesday. Data suggests that more people got vaccinated earlier this year than they did last year, perhaps motivated by memories of the prior season. Flu shots are $20 for everyone age 2 and older.

These tests are rapid, like the name suggests but depending on the actual strain of the virus going around they can have varying success in properly identifying the flu.

"So there is no reason why people should not get the flu shot this year. When you get vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people you love". There were about 80,000 estimated deaths, including 180 children - the most since the CDC started using its latest surveillance procedures.

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