Flu Hits Miami-Dade Hard, Particularly Children

Thanks in part to a miscalculated flu vaccine this year, the flu outbreak has hit epidemic proportions, and Miami-Dade is no exception. Influenza caused 5.9 percent of emergency room visits between December 28 and January 3, according to the Miami Herald. That's up from 3.6 percent the same time last year.

The outbreak is in part because of the spread of H3N2, a particularly dangerous strain of flu that experts hadn't predicted to become prevalent this year. The current flu vaccine offers no direct protection against the strain, though officials warn that people should still get a flu shot, which protects against other strains and may mitigate symptoms associated with any strain.

Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to H3N2. Miami Children's Hospital, for example, is treating 15 to 30 new cases a day, and Mount Sinai Medical Center is treating about 12 to 15 new cases.

Three children in Florida have already died due to the flu this season, though none of those cases has occurred in South Florida. Meanwhile, about 2,500 Floridians have died from either influenza or pneumonia (which is sometimes caused by the flu) this season. Those number are comparable to past years'.

Florida is one of 22 states that has reported high incidences of the flu this year.

Those looking to still get a flu shot can find locations at floridahealth.gov.

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Kyle Munzenrieder