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Flu hospitalization increase, health experts recommend vaccinations

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MILWAUKEE -- (CBS 58) After an increase in flu-related cases this season, doctors are urging people to get vaccinated.

“Influenza is not a virus you wanna mess around with," said Adam King, MD, Internist with Froedtert & MCW McKinley Health Center.

So far this year, a child died from the flu in southeast Wisconsin. Health officials say the child was under 10 years old. It’s not known if the child was vaccinated.

“Your immune system for some reason will try to attack influenza very, very aggressively, and that in and of itself can be deadly. You can stop breathing, your blood pressure can drop dramatically,” added Dr. King.

In Milwaukee County, there have been 208 flu-related hospitalizations this season. Of those, 175 were in the city. That’s up from last year.

Health experts say there are many factors causing the spike, especially in influenza B. One of them being, less people are getting the flu shot.

"We also know that vaccination rates are not where they need to be, so we wanna encourage individuals to get vaccinated, said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeannette Kowalik. "The vaccine that's being used right now is a good match for the flu that's circulating right now," 

Kenosha County had seven confirmed cases of the flu with five people who needed to be admitted to the hospital. Racine County had 17 confirmed or probable cases of influenza-associated hospitalizations. Waukesha County had 29 cases this season, to date.

“It really just takes you out of being able to do your normal function daily thing, for five to ten days,” said Dr. King.  “It can really hurt you, and being vaccinated is very unlikely to harm you.”

Experts say even if you've had the flu, you should get the shot because there are different strains.

For more information, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/influenza/index.htm

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