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Early Flu Season, CDC Urges Vaccinations

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults, children and babies older than 6 months get vaccinated against this year’s influenza (flu) strains. This year’s vaccine is made from a combination of three inactivated (killed)—two influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2, and an influenza B virus.


In early December the CDC had reported that the national baseline of 2.2% of the population had experienced flulike symptoms, the earliest since the 2003-2004 flu season. “It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director. During a one-week period states reporting local activity jumped from eight to 19. This is in contrast with the 2011-2012 flu season, when such occurrence did not happen until February. As of late December 2012, 29 states and New York City had reported high levels of flu activity. Flu is widespread in 41 states.


The CDC estimates that between 5% and 20% of the US population get the flu each year; it is fatal in approximately 36,000 cases. Although flu peaks in January and February, epidemics still occur in late spring.


If you haven’t been vaccinated against the flu this year, there is still time. “We are particularly encouraging people who haven’t gotten vaccinated to do it,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.


For more information on the flu, visit the Department of Health and Human Services Web site.

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