The CDC wants the nation to know that Texas has the flu. Public health officials are warning that the flu is taking off much earlier than expected, and it appears more severe than anticipated. At this point, most of the cases are clustering in Texas and in Colorado.
The warning comes as CDC surveillance is also picking up evidence of a particularly tough strain of influenza that is not covered by this year's flu vaccine. Even so, the CDC says getting a flu shot is crucial to preventing illness, and it's not too late to get vaccinated since the seasono typically lingers through March.
Healthcare workers and those at high risk of complications from the flu are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High risk individuals include persons over age 50, people with heart, lung, kidney, or other disorders that compromise the immune system, and children 6 to 23 months old.
Each year, about 114,000 people are hospitalized from the flu in the U.S., according to CDC figures, and 36,000 people die from flu related complications.