Flu Season Begins Earliest in a Decade

National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 2-8 Timely Event

Yahoo Contributor Network

Flu season 2012-13 has begun in the United States, according to Dr. Thomas Friedan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The good news: The vaccine available for the season matches up well with the flu already being reported. This information, coupled with the fact that there are ample flu shots to go around, bodes well for those who have been immunized and for those wanting to be immunized against this season's most likely flu virus culprits.

Early Flu Season 2012

Friedan participated in a telebriefing on Monday, explaining that reports from physicians in several states points to an increase of patients seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms and that most of those cases will likely turn out to be influenza. Unlike the flu season of 2011-12, which had a late start, this season has begun the earliest since 2003.

Both Friedan and Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, emphasized that peak flu season is generally seen in the months of January and February, allowing plenty of time to get the flu shot now and develop immunity to the strains protected by the immunization.

A "Flu View" map provided by the CDC, updated weekly with the most current information, shows that five states are already experiencing high levels of flu activity: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, with Georgia and and Missouri each reporting moderate flu activity.

National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 2-8

In an effort to encourage people to take the flu vaccine, the CDC has embarked on a concentrated effort to educate the public on both influenza and its prevention. Although some people may think it's too late to take the flu shot, the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General's office want you to know that getting a flu shot now may save you and/or your family from the flu and its possible complications, including hospitalization and even death. An average of 24,000 people in the United States dies each year from flu complications.

People who are at higher risk for developing complications from the flu include children age 5 years and younger -- and especially children under 2 years of age and those under 6 months of age. Also included in the high risk categories for flu complications are pregnant women, people with chronic conditions such as lung problems, diabetes and heart disease. People age 65 and older, baby boomers and seniors, are also more likely to develop serious complications from the flu.

Where You Can Find the Flu Shot

An interactive map allows you to find the places nearby that are offering flu vaccinations and answers questions you may have about the vaccine and the various administration options.

Bottom Line

Approximately 112 million people have already taken the flu shot, according to estimates by the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The immunization is the single best way to protect you and your family from this season's influenza. Even if you are not concerned about yourself becoming ill, give consideration to those about whom you care and protect them from the flu, and worse.

Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.

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