LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Parents who have kids at home sick with the flu aren’t alone. Area hospitals say this year, Arkansans are seeing a later flu season.

Doctors at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s say the peak of flu season is usually in January or February.

Dr. Rick Barr at Arkansas Children’s says this year cases didn’t start rolling in until mid-March.

“We were really seeing covid rates drop [at that time], people were getting out and socializing, and taking off masks,” said Dr. Barr.

Doctors say social distancing practices taken during the pandemic are part of the reason Arkansas is seeing a change in flu cases from years prior.

“There were no respiratory illnesses in my house for two years and once we started dropping masks, even though my youngest was really good about wearing it, she’s had two or three viral illnesses this spring that we haven’t seen in two years,” said Dr. Robert Hopkins at UAMS.

Hopkins says flu cases are higher among kids this year partially because of how easily they spread germs to one another.

“Particularly the younger kids are really efficient spreaders of respiratory illnesses [because of the] coughing, and sneezing,” said Hopkins.

Alisha Payne says her 5-year-old came down with the flu in mid-March and since she’s seen multiple moms post on social media about flu cases.

“It seems like its every other post,” said Payne. “It’s just going around like crazy.”

Arkansas Children’s says it did see an uptick in cases this spring, their peak toward the end of March. Doctors there say they are hoping the virus dies down in the weeks to come.

UAMS says they are also seeing an uptick in flu cases in outpatient care. They say luckily hospitalizations for the flu are down.