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Flu season hits early

By Jill Kuramoto
Published On: Jan 06 2013 12:20:00 PM HST

The nation's flu season is hitting early and hard.

HONOLULU -

The nation's flu season is hitting early and hard.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of the states in the U.S. are experiencing high levels of the flu and it appears to be on the rise.

Although Hawaii has not yet seen a spike, state health officials warn it may just be a matter of time.
     
For thousands of Americans across the nation, the flu season has hit about 5 weeks early.

Flu was widespread in 41 states, up from 31 states, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Here in Hawaii, state health officials haven't yet seen a significant spike in flu cases, but Hawaii is typically about a month behind the rest of the country when it comes to communicable diseases.
 
"So it's not that it's not here, it's just not the widespread outbreaks that we're seeing on the mainland. Is that going to happen here? It's hard to know," said Dr. Sarah Park, chief of the state health department's Disease Outbreak Control division.
 
State health officials said Hawaii's flu season tends to be year round because of our high visitor rate.

The question is:  have there been enough people vaccinated against the flu this year?
 
"Have we vaccinated enough to keep it as a steady hum as opposed to a rip roaring wave?" Park said.
 
State health officials are focusing on the proactive efforts made so far. The state reached its goal of vaccinating school children and the vaccine being administered appears to be a good match with the strain that's making the rounds.  

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, Dr. Park said it's not too late.
 
"It's the best way to prevent infection, but it's not the only way," said Park.
 
State health officials recommend getting the flu shot. Or for those under 50 years old, the nasal spray vaccine is another option to avoid the flu.

It's also recommended to wash your hands and cover your cough or sneeze if you're sick and don't go to work if you have the flu.

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