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This may be the earliest start of flu illness in the past 10 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  And, cases may peak as early as December this year instead of January, some experts believe.

There is another different aspect to the flu this year. We usually see the A strain early and the B strain later in the season, but so far this fall, the B strain seems to be dominant, causing 60 to 70 percent of the illness.  It is unclear exactly what this means for the remainder of our flu season, but some experts predict we are in for a rough time of flu illness and flu-related hospitalizations.  Thus far, the U.S. southern states have been hit the hardest.

The B strain currently being seen nationwide is B/Victoria and the good news is that the current vaccine should protect against that strain.  “Flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk from flu and its potentially serious complications” says Scott Pauley, a press officer at the CDC.

“It is not too late to get vaccinated,” said Cindy Mankamyer, a nurse at Garrett County Health Department, “but remember it may take 10 to 14 days for the vaccine to develop its full protection in your system.”

The health department still has flu vaccine available for all ages, including high dose for seniors. Call 301-334-7770 or 301-895-5355 to schedule an appointment, or contact your doctor or pharmacy for information about influenza or vaccine.