CBS Local — After a devastating flu season in Australia set off warning bells in the U.S. back in November, the CDC now says that America’s flu season is already responsible for hundreds of deaths around the country.
“This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought,” the CDC’s Dr. Dan Jernigan said, via CBS News. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that 759 people died of flu-related illnesses between Oct. 7 and Dec. 23.
Last year, only 322 people died during the same period due to the flu. America’s flu outbreak reached its worst point of season on Jan. 13, as the U.S. health officials say 32 states, Puerto Rico, and the New York City area were all designated “high activity” areas for the flu.
While Australia’s flu vaccine was reportedly only effective 10 percent of the time, the CDC is urging Americans to get a flu shot. The organization claimed in a recent release that the U.S. version has a success rate of closer to 40 percent against common strains of influenza. Against the more serious and widespread version of the flu this year, the H3N2 virus, the CDC admits its shot’s effectiveness goes down to about 32 percent.
For people who already have the flu, the CDC is urging Americans to avoid others by staying home unless you’re traveling to see a doctor. Young children, pregnant women, and seniors over 65 — who are all at risk for fatal complications — are being asked to contact their doctors immediately if they get sick.
Doctors say it’s not too late to get your flu shot this season.
The flu vaccine is typically available at your family doctor’s office and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other health insurance providers. Michiganders can get a walk-in vaccine at a CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic , or at a Kroger Pharmacy or Meijer Pharmacy near you. [Find out where else you can get a flu shot].