CRESTVIEW — Dr. Karen Chapman, director of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, said the organization has ordered additional flu vaccine fo children for the Crestview and Fort Walton Beach clinics.

 “On Friday, Jan. 12, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that flu has reached epidemic levels and the nation has experienced 20 pediatric deaths,” Chapman stated in a media release.

Of the 52 percent of reported flu outbreaks last week, 17 percent were in daycare, and 35 percent were in school settings. Emergency department data from last week show that almost 20 percent of visits statewide are due to influenza-like illness in children younger than 4.

“We are still experiencing elevated cases for flu in local emergency departments. I urge parents to vaccinate their children. I urge everyone to get a flu shot now,” Chapman said.

According to the media release from the agency, some people who get a shot still get the flu. Although a flu shot may not prevent infection, it can still prevent serious life threatening effects and length of the flu.

"Flu vaccination not only protects the elderly but can also significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza. A recent CDC study showed vaccination prevents deaths by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children. Sadly, all five pediatric flu deaths reported in Florida to date this year were in unvaccinated children," the release stated.

Flu vaccination also may make illness milder for those who get sick. Another recent CDC study showed that flu vaccination reduced intensive care unit admissions, ICU length of stay and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.

Antiviral drugs are a second line of defense. There is an adequate supply of antivirals in Florida, although the CDC is aware of some areas where there are delays in receiving new shipments. DOH recommends that people call their pharmacy ahead to your pharmacy for medication availability.

Visit for more information about the flu. For the most current information about flu activity in Florida, please see Florida’s weekly surveillance report, the Florida Flu Review.

Call 833-9246 or visit okaloosa.floridahealth.go. for more information on Okaloosa County health. Visit for more information about the Florida Department of Health.