By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s a growing number of deaths and hospitalizations blamed on the flu, which is now spreading rapidly across the country.

The CDC says the flu is now widespread in 46 states, which includes the tri-state region.

There are four times as many flu cases now as compared with this time last year.

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It is still too soon to say just how bad this flu season will be, but the CDC believes it could reach near epidemic levels.

Young children are being especially hard hit.

Eight-month-old Kingston Smith is hospitalized with the flu, among roughly 10,000 children under the age of 4 who have been hospitalized.

“About four days ago, he started breathing hard, vomiting, having fevers, so I drove here to the hospital and they said, ‘Yes, we need to keep him,'” Shareeka, Kingston’s mother said.

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Nationwide influenza is widespread. Of the 100 people who have died from flue so far this season, 13 are children.

“Unfortunately, it can cause a lot of complications. Children can get severely sick, actually need to be in the ICU,” Dr. Claire Bocchini, an infectious disease specialist, said.

In New Jersey, there’s been one confirmed pediatric flu related death and 11 severe cases.

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Across the state, there are more than 2,000 confirmed cases. Flu activity is high everywhere but in the South.

Making the problem worse this season is the type of flu that’s spreading: H3N2. The strain tends to hit younger and older people harder than others.

“In years where there is H3N2, we do see far more deaths,” Dr. Daniel Jernigan, the CDC influenza division director, said.

In Pennsylvania, where the flu is widespread and more than 11,ooo cases, there have been 18 deaths.

And in Delaware, flu cases increased 48 percent in the first week after the holidays

“It’s possible that a lot of folks got together during the winter holidays. And so, with all those folks getting together, they’re able to transmit flu and then take it and send it onto other folks, and so there’s been a lot of that,” Dr. Jernigan explained.

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Doctors also say this year’s flu vaccine isn’t as effective as years past.

Also, in the Philadelphia-area, flu numbers are lower than other areas.

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