Flu season is ramping up early this year and hitting harder than it has in almost a decade, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday.
"This is at least a month earlier than we would generally see the beginning of the up-tick in cases," said CDC director Thomas Frieden.
H3N2 is the predominant strain this year, which is generally associated with a severe flu season. "The strains we are seeing suggest this could be a bad flu year," Frieden said. "But this year's vaccine is an excellent match with the influenza that's circulating."
About 123 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed to health care providers, and about 112 million people have already been vaccinated. Among doctors, nurses and pharmacists, about 80 percent to 90 percent have already been vaccinated along with almost half of all pregnant women. The number of children being vaccinated has also increased.
According to the CDC, suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states -- Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. An up-tick in flu reports like this usually doesn't occur until after Christmas.
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