DETROIT (WWJ) – This week has been a particularly deadly one for the flu. Seven children died across the U.S. — bringing the total number of pediatric deaths this season to 37, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Young children and the elderly are at the greatest risk from flu and its complications; and this year, officials say, baby boomers have been the hardest-hit group.

Health Commissioner and infectious disease specialist Dr. DeborahMcMahon sent out a warning Friday urging people to take care of themselves and get a flu shot.

Her instructions are simple:

“I’m not asking you to prep for a marathon, I’m not asking anything like that,” McMahon said in a CBS News Radio report, which ailed on WWJ. “Get a flu shot, wash your hands, don’t go to work if your sick, call a doctor with Tamiflu.”

[MORE: Flu Widespread Across US For Third Straight Week]

Flu is now widespread in every state except Hawaii, and 39 states reported high flu traffic for doctors last week, up from 32. At this rate, the CDC said Friday, by the end of the season somewhere around 34 million Americans will have gotten sick from the flu.

The CDC, which warns that that this flu season has not yet peaked, recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot. It is NOT too late to get your shot.

Last week, 1 in 15 doctor visits were for symptoms of the flu. That’s the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009. The government doesn’t track every flu case but comes up with estimates; one measure is how many people seek medical care for fever, cough, aches and other flu symptoms.

Is this considered an epidemic?

Dr. Daniel Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at tje CDC, says yes.

“Epidemic really just refers to an impact upon the people of an infectious disease,” he said, earlier this month. “Each year in the United States we have an epidemic of flu, so, clearly yes, this is an epidemic.”

As a reminder, people can prevent transmission of the flu virus by taking the following precautions:

• Staying home from work when sick
• Keeping sick children home from school
• Washing hands often
• Covering coughs and sneezes
• Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

The flu vaccine is typically available at your family doctor’s office and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other health insurance providers. Michiganders can get a walk-in vaccine at a CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic , or at a Kroger Pharmacy or Meijer Pharmacy near you. [Find out where else you can get a flu shot].

Get more information about the flu from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at this link.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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