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Flu Season Still Going Strong; It's Not Too Late to Get the Vaccine

The flu season is far from over, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned this month.

Reports from across the country indicate that doctors’ offices and clinics are overcrowded because of the flu. In some areas of the country, such as Chicago and Florida, schools have been closed because too many people were out sick. Alabama declared a public health emergency.

Seniors aged 65 and older are being hospitalized more than any other age group, according to the CDC, and at least 63 children or infants have died.

“I wish there were better news this week, but almost everything we are looking at is bad news,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director, said in a recent weekly media briefing. “It doesn’t mean it’s a pandemic, but just that flu-like illness levels are as high as in 2009.”

About one in 10 people who have died in the U.S. during the past week died from flu or pneumonia, and that number could climb.

“This season, we are on track to break some recent records,” Schuchat added. “We have very high influenza-like illness activity; we have very high hospitalizations; our pneumonia and influenza deaths are not very, very high compared to previous years, but unfortunately, more deaths are likely to happen.”

“Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicates that flu activity is still high and widespread,” Schuchat said. “We are not out of the woods yet.”

Hospitalizations from the flu are comparable to the 2014-2015 season. The outbreak is mostly widespread in 51 out of 54 jurisdictions in the U.S.

Although some reports suggest the flu vaccine may be only 30 percent effective, doctors are still encouraging people to get the shot, and it’s not too late. The CDC says it can help.

The CDC noted that most of the children who died from the flu did not get a shot. The CDC says the vaccine still has protective effects, including preventing the transmission of the flu to those who are more vulnerable to the virus, such as those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and the young.

Public health officials also recommend regularly washing your hands and wearing a mask to cover your face if you around sick people.

If you catch the flu, the CDC recommends staying home from work, getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and seeing a doctor to get an antiviral.