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Flu widespread in Pennsylvania

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 30 2013 05:05:16 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 30 2013 05:51:28 PM CST

The holiday season may be winding down but the *flu* season is going strong.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The holiday season may be winding down but the flu season is going strong. Pennsylvania has been added to the list of states where the flu is considered to be widespread.

Typically flu season is in October and February but health officials saycases of the virus have really picked up over the last two weeks. Health officials are urging people to ring in the new year with the flu vaccine.

"This season is just really getting started," Vicky Kistler of the Allentown Health Bureau said.

The Pennsylvania Department of health says the virus is now considered to be widespread; as close to 1,200 cases have been reported statewide. Kistler says getting vaccinated should be a top priority, as the flu can be a nasty virus.

"People end up on ventilators, we lose people and children to a totally preventable illness," she explained.

Between 200 and 2,000 people die from the flu each year in Pennsylvania. Children, the elderly,and those with chronic illness are the most susceptible. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, headache, fatigue and being tired and body aches.

Manager of Lehigh Valley Health Network's Infection and Prevention Department Deborah Fry advises in addition to the vaccine, keep clear of those who are sick, stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides and constantly wash your hands.

Just because you get the flu shot doesn't mean you won't get sick but symptoms doctors say are milder.

The Allentown Health Bureau says anyone who needs a vaccination can come and receive one for free on Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m.