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CDC: 16 more children have died from the flu, peak still to come

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Flu shot M. Spencer Green/ASSOCIATED PRESS

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its new weekly report about the flu.

The CDC said there have been 16 more flu-related deaths reported this week, bringing the total number of pediatric flu-related deaths to 53.

RELATED | Family: 7-year-old Virginia boy dies after contracting flu, strep throat

According to the report, flu activity is now widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico, down from 49 states during the previous two weeks.

"We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately," Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, told CNN. "It is not going down yet. Really, the bottom line is there is still likely many more weeks to go."

In its report, the CDC also reported an uptick in patients who visited health care providers with flu-like symptoms.

They reported a rise to 7.1-percent for the week ending in January 27, compared to more than 6.5-percent the previous week.

Data also showed there were 17,024 new laboratory-confirmed cases, bringing the total for the season to 126,117; these numbers don't include all the people who have had the flu, as some don't go see a doctor when they get sick.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there have been reports of spot shortages of the generic version of Tamiflu, as a result of the flu hitting everywhere all at once.

The CDC said the hospitalization rate for 2018's fourth week is about 51 people per 100,000.

The 2017-18 flu season "unquestionably falls into the bucket of a severe year," said Fauci.

The Pittsylvania Danville Health District is offering free seasonal flu vaccines at a special drive-thru clinic Friday, February 2 in the Hobby Lobby parking lot on Collins Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you're unable to attend, there will be another free drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Danville Community Farmer's Market on Craghead Street in Danville on Saturday, February 10 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can also get a free flu shot Monday through Friday at the Danville Health Department on Taylor Drive in Danville when it's open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

To make an appointment, call 434-766-9828.