Moderate flu activity reported in Pinellas, two deaths reported in statewide

Pinellas is one of six counties reporting five or more outbreaks of flu or influenza like illnesses outbreaks so far this season. It is also one of 10 counties reporting moderate flu activity.

If you haven’t gotten around to getting your annual flu vaccination, you still have time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend influenza vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating.

And they are circulating. The Florida Department of Health released its Flu Review for week 49: Dec. 1-7. Statewide, activity has decreased compared to the week before, but not in Pinellas where activity levels have risen from mild to moderate. Pinellas also is one of six Florida counties that have reported five or more outbreaks of flu or influenza-like illnesses so far this season.

DOH-Pinellas recently put out a press release that said the state is already seeing regional flu activity, adding that the season’s peak, which typically comes in late December through February, has yet to come.

“The Florida Department of Health urges all Floridians older than six months who have not yet received their vaccination to do so as soon as possible,” the release said. “With the busy holiday season now under way, vaccination ensures protection when many gather for celebrations and family events.”

Thus far this season, the majority of flu outbreaks in the state have been reported in facilities serving children, but three of the four outbreaks reported last week were in facilities serving adults aged 65 and older.

DOH says the flu is the deadliest infectious disease in the United States. Each year, nearly 35,000 people die of the flu or its many complications, such as pneumonia. Children and the elderly are most at risk.

Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in the state during week 49. Both deaths occurred in children who were not yet vaccinated for the 2019-20 season.

These cases mark the first deaths reported in Florida so far this season, DOH says. Parents who have not yet had their children vaccinated for the 2019-20 season should do so as soon as possible. Vaccination has been shown to reduce a child’s likelihood of dying from influenza by 60%.

To locate a place where the flu vaccine is available, visit or check with your healthcare provider.

Health experts continue to discount the rumors that you can catch the flu from the flu shot.

“The viruses are incapable of causing the illness,” according to DOH. “While certain people may feel tired or achy the day after the shot that is a normal response as the immune system develops antibodies. Those systems pale in comparison to the high fever, body aches and other symptoms a full-blown case of flu can bring.”

Remember, it takes about two weeks for vaccinations to become effective.

Other precautions to take against the flu are proper hand washing and sanitizing surfaces. Cover your mouth when you cough and your nose when you sneeze, and don’t use your hands. If you get sick, stay home. Don’t spread your germs.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at