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Middle Tennessee Flu Death Toll Rises to 18

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Officials at Vanderbilt University Medical Center say at least 18 Middle Tennesseans have died from the flu.

Vanderbilt says the deaths have occurred in Davidson and seven surrounding counties. This year's outbreak has also sent nearly 500 Middle Tennesseans to the hospital.

The numbers show how much worse the flu season is this year compared with the entire 2012-2013 season when 11 people died and 437 were hospitalized.

Vanderbilt’s Dr. Bill Shafner says that the most common strain of the flu this year is one that’s proven especially deadly.

“We’ve had a lot of H1N1, almost exclusively, and it likes to seek out children and younger adults, more so than older persons and it’s had quite a severe impact.”

Dr. Shafner says it’s still not to late to get a flu shot. The flu season typical peaks in January and February, but can last through spring.