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CDC: More than half of country experiencing high levels of flu virus

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 10:54 PM CST
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In the peak of flu season, the Center for Disease Control says more than half of the U.S. is experiencing high levels of the virus.

The main strain going around this season is Influenza B. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases says children are especially prone to Influenza B and this year's vaccine isn't a very good match for it.

However, health experts say, this does not mean that you shouldn't still get a vaccine if you haven't done so already.

"It's kind of like wearing a seat belt," family physician Dr. Lorraine Alvarado says. "Will it protect you 100 percent of the time? No, but it's what we have so you wear it to be safe."

From coughing to swollen glands, Alvarado says the peak of the flu season is underway.

"We're seeing it more and more trickle in and certainly every day, there's influenza cases here, but I've seen worse years for it," she says.

The CDC reports more than 30 children in the U.S. have already died from the flue this season and while you may not be 100 percent protected if you get the flu shot, Alvarado points out odds that make it worth your time to take the precaution.

"We don't always get 100 percent coverage of the flu. Ninety percent would be great, but it typically is between 40 and 60 percent," she says. "We tell people if you get the flu vaccine, you will have a 50 percent less chance of getting the flu."

Even if you do get sick with the flu, Alvarado says having the shot in your system will decrease the virus' severity.

"Studies show that you have a much less severe episode of the flu," she says. "Maybe the days are shorter that you have the flu. You get over it quicker in a milder case."

Whether or not you get the flu shot, the best way to lower your chances of getting sick is to wash your hands.

"The flu is a respiratory illness. People transmit it by coughing and sneezing in public," Alvarado says. "You want to decrease the possibility your transmitting it, so hand-washing, staying out of crowded areas, if you are running a fever, don't run for the story. Stay at home until you're over it."

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