Flu Cases Appearing Early In Sebastian County

SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) -- It's usually late October when reports of the flu start becoming common, but Sebastian County is already seeing several cases.

"It's definitely hard if the parents get sick as well. It makes it difficult," Sarah Sealy a parent told 5NEWS.

Sealy says she knows how heartbreaking it is to see a child suffer from the flu, and parents across the region are on high alert as flu season approaches.

Those with the Sebastian County Health Unit in Fort Smith say it's right to be cautious at this point.

Matthew Hicks says they're already seeing people lining up for the flu shot.

"We are averaging about 30 to 40 people a day, and we've been doing that for the last couple of weeks," Hicks said. "At a mass clinic last Friday we vaccinated 382 people."

The high of confirmed flu cases can usually be found in December, but many are wondering what this year's flu outlook will be.

"There are some hospitals that have been reporting in their emergency rooms some confirmed flu cases," Hicks told 5NEWS.

Health officials say at the end of October is when hospitals and clinics enter confirmed flu cases into shared databases, that's when they can start tracking confirmed cases and outbreaks.

Health units will soon be in schools in the area to give flu shots. Students will have to have signed permission from parent's to receive the shot

In 2017 the center for disease control reported that 80-thousand people died of the flu and its complications across the United States, making it the highest death toll in at least four decades.