MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) - Thousands of people across the country are sick right now with the flu; everyone is trying to avoid what's becoming one of the biggest flu seasons on record. Health officials said the illness has struck early -- already widespread in more than 40 states and about 30 are considered hot spots.
Twenty children have died so far in the outbreak.
At the Greater Mobile Urgent Care Center on Schillinger Road, it's the nights that seem to last as long as the days. "It's been a really busy past month, month-and-a-half; lots of flu," Dr. Shannon Waters told Local 15 News.
Not only is it a busy flu season right now, Waters said she's seen a 30% jump in patient volume from this time last year.
"Last year was a very mild flu season, very mild, so this year we were expecting it to be heavier but not to the extent that we've seen it," she said.
When Ashley Pace saw the news online, she decided to head straight for the doctor's office. "It was on CNN on their main page this morning," she said. "All the states were red and I was like, 'Hmmmm, maybe I need to go in.'"
Her diagnosis was almost what she wanted to hear. "I actually am negative, but it could be just a little too soon for it to come up, so they're going to go ahead and treat me with the Tamiflu."
The reason for the precaution: Place is a teacher. While her students are high school-aged -- and not at high risk -- there's no taking chance's with this year's flu.
"All ages, there has not been one particular group that's been getting it more than others," Waters added, "We've had small children and I've had a 91-year-old lady with the flu the other day."
Mobile County Health Spokesperson Cassandra Andrews said Thursday there is no shortage of flu vaccine. Officials have planned a drive-thru flu shot clinic Friday, January 11 at 48 North Sage Street from 8am - 2pm, she said.
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson will also update the public Friday in a news conference to discuss the 2012-2013 flu season and its recommended precautions in addition to how cases are tracked.
The news conference is at 10am.