Valley hospitals and pharmacies prepare for flu season

FRESNO, Calif.

Roujeh Awad, a nurse in the Emergency Department of Children's Hospital in Central California says they have treated many children with flu –like symptoms.

"We're seeing a little bit of everything," Awad said. "We're seeing everything from RSV, influenza, pertussis (whooping cough) is making a comeback. There are a lot of kiddos out there coming in with a lot of pertussis like symptoms and they're coming in positive."

On Monday the Emergency department saw 412 kids. Awad said that is a new record.

Children's hospital set up a tent as overflow space for the emergency department's waiting room. It can fit about 30 people.

He says patients are seeing doctors faster this year than last year.

"Doesn't mean you're going to be seen right away," he said. "There's going to be a wait, a couple of hours, maybe three hours. But we're still seeing our patience very fast in comparison to last year."

Fresno saw a warm and sunny New Year's Day and it brought many people like Keith Rickelman and his 9-year-old daughter, Audrey out for a walk and bike ride through northeast Fresno. The flu was the last thing on Rickelman's mind.

"I don't typically get flu for some reason," he said. "So I'm not particularly concerned."

Doctors from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention urge everyone to get a flu shot. Rickelman doesn't believe in the flu shot, but his wife does, and their daughter got her shot.

So far, Rickelman nor his daughter have gotten the flu.

"I was coughing, it just didn't feel very good," the 9-year-old said.

The CDC says there are three strains of the flu making its way around the country this year. The most common is H1N1, the strain that made so many people miserable in 2009.

The latest numbers from the CDC are from early November. At that time, more than 60 percent of Americans had not gotten their flu shot.

Doctors from the CDC urge people to not only get vaccinated, but to make a good habit of hand washing.

"My best advice at this point is hand hygiene- hand-wash, hand-wash, hand-wash," Awad said.

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