MA experiencing 'widespread' flu outbreak and peak season hasn't even hit yet

Chicago Department of Public Health offering free flu shots this week

Chicago Department of Public Health offering free flu shots this week

What's more, this year's flu shot may not be up to the task.

The flu virus spreads through tiny droplets produced when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk.

As of November 25, nearly 2,100 lab-confirmed cases had been detected in various parts of the country, of which 84 per cent were influenza A. Those infections resulted in 371 hospitalizations, including 21 ICU admissions, and eight deaths, the report says.

Health officials are warning that the flu season could be bad and that it's coming early.

"Projects like this are why many of us do research", Creech said.

Previous year in Canada and the USA, the vaccine was found to be only 35 per cent effective in preventing cases of H3N2 influenza, she said. "The seasons in which H3N2 predominates, those are the seasons we see more severe illness, more hospitalizations".

The first two flu-related deaths of the season were reported in the Flathead Wednesday afternoon.

There are also concerns that this year's flu shot may not be all that effective in preventing the respiratory illness.

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The second major strain of influenza - B - already has been found even though it typically doesn't appear until February, according to Canada's FluWatch Report.

The limited success of the current flu vaccine is a result of its guessing-game nature. Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said getting a shot this year is crucial.

According to the study, a strain of the H3N2 virus with a different outer layer protein emerged during the 2014-2015 flu season.

Then-US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price attends a press conference about influenza prevention for the upcoming flu season at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on September 28, 2017.

Other ways to stay healthy that you may not think of include staying active and managing stress, which can help give your immune system a boost.

Though the accuracy and effectiveness of each year's vaccine varies, this year's seems on track to provide good protection against the Influenza A strains now predominating, health officials say.

This year's vaccines targets the same strains as last year. Each year, 2 or 3 strains of influenza virus circulate throughout the northern and southern hemispheres.

Despite concerns over the effectiveness, experts said the yearly flu vaccine is still recommended, especially for young child, those over age 50 and people who have health conditions that could make contracting the flu particularly unsafe.

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