Flu season gaining momentum in the Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The flu season is gaining momentum in the Mid-South. It's now higher than usual this time of year.

Doctors said they're also seeing a lot of children with the flu and other viral infections.

"We have been very busy here both in the emergency department and within the hospital. A lot of kids with viral infections," said Chief Pediatrician John McCullers.

He said many of those kids have the flu.

"High fever, cough and muscle aches," McCullers.

McCullers said it's vital you see a doctor right away with you feel sick, because the medications work better.

"The flu can be a very serious illness. We do see a number of deaths across the nation every year, and usually one or two deaths of children in Memphis every year," said McCullers.

The CDC's latest report shows the flu is already widespread in Arkansas and Mississippi, and there's activity in Tennessee. So far this year, more than 850 people have been hospitalized and several children died nationwide.

"It's going to get worse, because during the holiday time you bring in more people together," said Doctor Mark Castellaw with Baptist Medical Group.

He said it's also not too late to get a flu shot, even though some are concerned it may not be as effective this season.

The New England Journal of Medicine suggests this year's vaccine may only be ten percent effective compared to 42 percent last year.

"I don't think that's accurate. I have never seen it miss that bad," said Castellaw. "But even if they miss it, getting a flu shot has been shown to reduce the severity of the flu if you get it."

He said the flu shot takes two weeks to work, so he recommends you get it as soon as possible.

Also,he said to make sure to get the quadivalent flu vaccine. It protects you against four different flu viruses.