LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Get a flu shot! That’s the message from health experts who say this is the earliest start to a flu season in about a decade.
Not only has the flu season arrived early, but it’s also severe, affecting more people and covering a wider geographical area.
Nearly 30 states are now reporting high flu-like activity, up from 16 a week ago.
The flu epidemic is moving west across the country, according to health officials.
Some 2,200 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms nationwide, and 18 children have died from influenza.
The Centers for Disease Control says the best defense against influenza is a flu shot. The vaccine is also available as a nasal spray.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu.
Doctors point out that it takes two weeks for a flu shot to take full effect, so it’s important to get vaccinated early in the season.
They also say that it’s not true that getting a flu shot can give you the flu.
“You’re getting a dead virus, so it can’t give you the flu,” CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.
“What it’s doing is activating your immune system… It’s teaching your immune system to recognize that virus as a problem so when it sees it again it attacks it.”
You can also take other measures including washing your hands and using sanitizing gel. Doctors say that can reduce infection rates by 30 percent.
For a list of free flu clinics in LA County: http://www.ph.lacounty.gov/ip/flu/index.htm.