INDIANAPOLIS — Flu cases are especially high in Indiana right now with millions of people across the country infected.
According to the CDC, there have been 6.2 million cases so far this flu season.
Doctors say the typical flu season doesn’t usually peak until the beginning of the year.
On Wednesday, Hancock Regional Hospital posted on Facebook about the high number of patients, apologizing for “extremely long wait times.”
Hospitals across the state tell 13News they are slammed with cases right now.
“We are setting records left and right in our emergency departments,” said Dr. Louis Profeta, an emergency physician at Ascension St. Vincent.
Profeta said this recent surge in respiratory cases is one of the worst he’s experienced.
“Combination of RSV, COVID-19 and influenza right now, it’s like the perfect storm,” he said.
He said it’s typical to see a surge in sick people in the winter, but it’s not common to see so many this early in the winter season.
“The flu is the one that is really bad right now in terms of how sick people are getting,” Profeta said.
Doctors say kids are being largely affected.
Riley Hospital for Children said flu cases are six times higher than in October -jumping from less than 50 to more than 350 positive tests this month.
Breanna Lashley’s son Caden is one of them. The 8-year-old has been at Riley Hospital since Nov. 19.
She said it just started with a cough, but his symptoms quickly got worse.
“He woke up and he was just pale, eyes were like really dark and his chest was just caving in and out like he was fighting for breath,” Lashley said.
Caden tested positive for influenza A and secondary pneumonia.
“I just started crying. It felt like we were in a nightmare,” Lashley said.
At one point, Lashley said her son had to be heavily sedated to allow his body to fight off the virus and heal.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world when you can’t do something to help your kid. You got to watch them lay there and just fight through it,” Lashley said.
Doctors say the best thing families can do to stay safe this flu season is to get vaccinated.
“While it may not prevent them from getting the flu, [the vaccine] is good at preventing complications of the flu,” said Dr. Danielle Maue, a PICU physician at Riley Hospital for Children.
Maue said this could be the start of a long respiratory season.
“Maybe it will start to die off after the holidays or maybe it will just rage through the winter. It’s so hard to know,” she said.
With so many cases, doctors advise families to only come to the hospital if they are severely sick. They also ask people to take extra precautions to stay healthy like washing your hands, staying home if you're sick and wearing a mask.
You'll find a list of places to get vaccinated here.