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New Castle County man first flu death of Delaware's 2017-2018 season

FILE The number is higher than the previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 according to the study published by the Lancet which excludes deaths during pandemics

As of December 2, there were 46 laboratory-confirmed flu cases in DE for the 2017-2018 season with 15 requiring hospitalization.

So far, there have been 612 influenza-related hospitalizations reported this season, and no reports of pediatric deaths from influenza.

Over the last three seasons, there have been 19 pediatric influenza deaths in NY and an average of 11,183 influenza-related hospitalizations each season. According to the centers for disease control and prevention, more than 7-thousand cases of the flu have been confirmed- which is double compared to the numbers from a year ago.

And despite recommendations from the World Health Organization to use flu vaccination to help protect people in high-risk populations, few developing countries have seasonal flu vaccination programs or the capacity to produce and distribute seasonal or pandemic vaccines, it said. Doctors are reporting that this year's flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective but they also say this number is better than zero and they still suggest it.

If you're a health care worker and you haven't gotten a flu shot, you're required to wear a face mask when working with patients.

Fifteen people died from the flu past year, compared to the six deaths in the previous season.

It is not too late to get vaccinated, and there are ample amounts of the vaccine available, Zucker said.

Most health insurance plans cover influenza vaccines.

Flu infection can create or exacerbate other health factors which are then listed as the cause of death on death certificates, for example cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or related complications, they noted. Individuals and families without health insurance should check with their county health department to find out if local clinics will be held to provide free or low-priced vaccinations.

Those include infants six months and under, Children under the age of five, especially those younger than two, adults 65 and older, and people who have medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, lung disease, blood disorders, kidney disorders, liver disorders, etc., she said.

And it's not only for your own health, but also for the safety of others.

Since influenza virus can spread easily through coughing or sneezing, it is also important that family members and people in regular contact with high risk individuals get an influenza vaccine, Zucker said. High flu activity has continued in 3 states - Louisiana, Mississippi, and SC - and laboratory testing of respiratory specimens shows that influenza A (H3N2) has continued to be predominant this flu season.

State regulations allows unvaccinated health care workers to remove their masks when accompanying patients in the community, providing speech therapy services, or communicating with persons who lip read.