Widespread flu outbreak not yet at its peak in Nebraska

Flu shots are still available at local drug stores (file).

A total of 13 children across the United States have died after getting the flu this year — according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza is the highly contagious viral infection, better known as the flu.

"There's two types– A and B, and then there's sub strains of each one,” Dr. Zachary Frey, Mary Lanning Family Care Physician, said. “One of the sub strains is the bird flu you heard about years ago, that's a sub strain. There's H1N1, H3N2. H3N2 is the type that's most predominant this year and it's the type A flu virus," he said.

And any strain of the flu could potentially become deadly if not accurately treated; that risk is even higher in people with certain preexisting medical conditions.

With influenza being widespread in 46 states across the U.S., Nebraska healthcare professionals are telling people to get the flu shot.

Frey said the flu season hasn't even peaked in the Cornhusker state just yet.

"You never quite know, but you know, we've started to see the increase in cases here in the last few weeks so we're probably on our way here to our peak here in the next month or so," Frey said.

But what do the symptoms look like?

"Normally you will run a fever also when you start to get the flu–it's a virus, not a bacterium. So, regular antibiotics do not work with that, but you will start with usually a cough, sore throat, you may have some congestion and body aches,” Peggy Ondracek who works at the Grand Island Veterans Hospital said.

Ondracek said the elderly and children are more susceptible to getting it but for those who fall in between that age gap, they are more likely to spread it.

Many people said they don’t get the shot because it causes them to get sick with a cold, but experts said that it’s actually building your immune system.

"You're usually responding to [it]– your antibodies are building in your body to help from that actual flu," Ondracek said.

Getting the flu shot does not give you a free pass, however Ondracek and Frey said it makes it less likely to get it and in the case that you are struck with influenza, getting a flu shot could make symptoms less severe.

Representatives at drug stores like Walgreens and CVS in Grand Island said they are still giving out flu shots - some of those shots cover multiple strains.

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