Doctors in Orange County describe the flu season in the area as "widespread" and say Californians are suffering through an illness that can still be prevented.
Doctors say it’s still not too late to get the flu vaccine, even though the flu season is ramping up earlier than normal. Experts say the other thing driving this flu season is the type of flu being diagnosed as flu “B,” a strain considered not as detrimental as “A.”
This years vaccine, however, was designed to combat both “A” and “B.”
"Most of the time, most disease happens January to February," Dr. Matthew Zahn of the OC Health Care Agency said. "This uptick in cases in late December heralds an early flu season."
For the sake of perspective, the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention has logged 6.4 million flu illnesses nationwide since September of last year. Of those, 55,000 people were hospitalized and 2,900 have died. Fifty-four of those deaths were in California.
One other reason we might be seeing these additional cases is because so many people try to squeeze in a doctor's appointment late in the year after their deductibles have been met.
Regardless, health officials say if you plan to get the vaccine, the sooner the better.