Although the flu season started later than usual, Le Bonheur physicians are already seeing children sick with the flu. This year’s flu season is likely to be severe, warned Pediatrician-in-Chief Jon McCullers, MD.

“Getting to your primary care doctor early in a flu-like illness to get checked out is important, since there are antiviral drugs that can shorten the course of the flu, make you feel better quicker, and prevent complications.” said McCullers.

Those with the highest risk for flu-related complications are children younger than 2 years old, people 65 years and older, those who suffer from chronic diseases, including asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease or those with suppressed immune systems, women who are pregnant, the morbidly obese and residents in nursing homes or chronic-care facilities.

If your child does have flu-like symptoms, McCullers said to take your child to his or her physician and not to the emergency department.

“If you go to the emergency department you might either encounter other sick kids or get those kids sick,” McCullers said.

For more information on the flu visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.