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Flu cases on early rise; still time to get vaccine, health officials say

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Dec 04 2012 03:55:28 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 04 2012 04:59:01 PM CST

f you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said now's the time to get one.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said now's the time to get one because the flu season is ramping up earlier this year for the first time in almost a decade.

Flu season typically runs from October through May. Cases usually peak in February, according to the CDC, however, in some parts of the country, the CDC is already seeing a high number of people with the flu, more specifically in the south central and southeastern region.

"With the flu, everything is very unpredictable. We never really know what's going to happen," said Amy Heins, infection control coordinator at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Luckily in Pennsylvania, flu-related illnesses have been very sporadic. Heins said. As the CDC monitors the spread of the flu in the South, Heins said the CDC has developed this year's vaccine, using the predominant strain of H3N2.

"It takes two weeks to develop immunity after a flu shot," said Heins.

If you have gotten the vaccine and felt sick afterwards, Heins said it is not from the shot because you do not get the flu that way.

"If you would get in touch with someone in close contact with someone who had the flu, in that two week period of time, you would not have protective antibodies and might get the flu," said Heins.

St. Joseph Medical Center has had only one positive flu test come into its lab since October, Heins said.

According to the CDC, about 123 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to health care providers across the country. About 112 million people have already been vaccinated.

Heins encourages everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated.

"It's still in plenty of time for this area because we're not really seeing it, so if you have not done that, please go ahead and do it," said Heins.