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      Health officials push vaccine as spread of flu continues

      Health officials are urging anyone 6 months and older to get the flu shot after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the flu an epidemic in 40 states.

      The Michigan Department of Community Health says there are 190 reported hospitalizations so far this season, up from 115 last year. Thereâ??s been one juvenile death in the state this season. Nationwide, flu has killed 20 children.

      While officials say deaths from flu-like illness is nothing unusual for mid-January â?? at this time last year the flu had already killed 29 children â?? they say it's a serious reminder to protect yourself.

      Peak flu season is February and the CDC is now urging everyone who hasn't yet gotten a flu shot to get one now.

      Dr. Jim Weber of Hurley Medical Center in Flint said, â??It's not that we're seeing more of it, it's that the flu that we are seeing is a bit more severe. So it's important to pay attention to the very young and very old, and those with comorbid conditions, because those are the ones that can sick in a hurry.â??

      As always, experts say the best way to prevent the spread of flu is to stay home and get rest if you're having flu-like symptoms. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect countertops, utensils, even smart phones that can come in contact with other people.