TODAY | December 09, 2012
>>> this flu season could be one of the worst in nearly a decade. five children have died from flu so far this year. our chief science correspondence robert bazel has the story.
>> reporter: with the season starting early, children's hospital in memphis is feeling the first wave.
>> we've seen more than 200 cases of flu in the hospital this week and we're admitting eight to ten kids a day. we expect it to accelerate, to get worse before it gets better in the next few weeks.
>> reporter: schoolchildren are not only vulnerable, they play a big role in spreading the flu.
>> when you have all those kids getting together, they tend to pass the virus back and forth, they all get sick in the school and bring it home into the community.
>> the way to protect those people is to vaccinate the people around them. so vaccinating more children reduces the risk of older people in the community of getting the flu.
>> reporter: health officials are urging everyone, adults and children over 6 months old, to get vaccinated, and officials emphasized there's plenty to go around and it's never too late to get it. for "today," robert bazell , nbc news, new york.