Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that this years flu season in the United States is off to an early start, and it could possibly be a bad one.
Higher than normal flu cases have already been seen in Alabama, Louisana, Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee. The primary strain circulating seems to be making people, especially the elderly, sicker. Flu-related hospitalizations are also rising earlier than usual. There have already been two deaths in children.
On a positive note, more than one third of Americans (112 million) have been vaccinated, and, according to the CDC, the vaccine formulated for this year is well matched to the strains of the virus seen so far.
The last time the flu season was very bad was during the 2003-04 winter season, which caused over 48,000 deaths. The dominant type of flu seen then is the same one seen this year. The only difference was the vaccine in 2003-04 was poorly matched to the predominant flu strain.
The CDC recommends flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months and older.