CDC warns of flu severity, doctors urge vaccination

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by Matt Sczesny / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on December 3, 2012 at 10:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 6 at 8:39 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- While the late November- early December weather hasn’t felt like it, the flu season has started early. Doctors tell News 4 they are seeing cases sooner than expected, and the early start has some fearing this could be a bad season.

In fact, the early cases have prompted a warning from health officials. The Center for Disease Control has stated that the current season’s flu strain is making people sicker than in years past.

Unfortunately, physicians don’t seem to have an answer as to why the cases are appearing sooner than usual.

Doctors at Barnes-Jewish Hospital say flu cases don’t usually start appearing until the end of December. This year, it started in September.

“There’s reason for concern because people often wait late for vaccination,” said doctor Martin Docherty. “If the flu takes hold earlier in the season and then there’s less people vaccinated.”

Reports say flu vaccine is plentiful and readily available to anyone who wants it. National estimates are that as many as 12 million americans have been vaccinated.

St Louis County health officials say they haven’t seen a spike in numbers which likely means more people getting the vaccine.

But in St Louis at Barnes, doctors are seeing more cases.

“The patients I see tend to be younger adults actually and I’ve not seen that many older patients and outside of St Louis I’ve seen children with influenza,” said Docherty.

He also added younger patients tend to forgo the vaccine because of a certain mentality.

“They think their infallable,” he said.

Doctors say this year’s vaccine is well matched to fight the flu, still recommend anyone over 6 months old get a shot.

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