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It's not too late for a flu shot, as cases rise

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Glaser isn't sure why there were so many cases of the flu here last season, but said severity fluctuates from year to year.

'We don't know what's going to happen but there's a chance we could have a season similar to Australia, ' Dr. Daniel Jernigan, influenza chief at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press.

AHS's statistics also indicate influenza has been somewhat more active earlier in the season than previous year.

You better stock up on chicken soup this year.

The flu season has not yet brought any surprises, Hoyano said.

The most common flu strain there was the influenza A virus known as H3N2, and the vaccine given to Australians had an effectiveness of only 10 percent, according to preliminary estimates.

Universal flu vaccines could make the yearly flu shot - not to mention the yearly guessing game about which viral strains to match - a thing of the past.

"We typically tend to see the rates really go up closer to the end of December, into January", said Dr.

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Campbell County began reporting flu cases in September and October, which is earlier than previous year, Public Health Director Jane Glaser said. Among the most vulnerable are young children, older adults and people with chronic illness.

The CDC says people who get flu shots have a 40 per cent to 60 per cent lower chance of getting seriously ill than the unvaccinated.

For needle-phobes, there's a skin-deep vaccine that uses tiny needles, and a needle-free jet injector that shoots another vaccine through the skin.

"We've distributed a ton of flu vaccine this year and the demand from pharmacists and physicians has been very high", Hoyano said.

If you're 65 or older, there are two vaccine options created to boost immune response.

The production of universal vaccines entails no such risk.

The flu season is just getting underway in North America, but if Australia's experience with influenza is any guide, we're in for a miserable winter.

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