Health Officials Warn Flu Season Off to Early, Intense Start

December 3, 2012

Flu season is here and health officials warn it could be a bad one.

"We could see a more widespread flu activity season than last year," said Elizabeth Beasley of the Thomas Jefferson Health District.

In Virginia, flu cases are on the rise, although no outbreaks have been reported, yet. Beasley said the commonwealth mirrors nationwide trends, and five states are already reporting outbreaks.

"Some states are at wide spread levels so we don't know when it's going to happen but I'm sure we are going to follow those trends soon," Beasley said.

According to the CDC, about 37 percent of the US population has been vaccinated. Health officials say it's not too late to get the flu shot.

"We are expecting the same strains that have circulated the past few years and those strains are what the vaccine protects you from," Beasley said.

If you don't want to get vaccinated, health officials say there are other ways to protect yourself from the flu. "Wash your hands frequently and often, cover your cough, stay home when you're sick, and keep your children home if they are sick," Beasley advised.

Health experts say the flu season usually peaks with the most reported cases in January, but that could come early this year. You can get a vaccination at your doctor's office or stores like Walgreens.

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