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Flu Season Gets an Early Start in Florida

4:15 PM, Dec 22, 2010   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The flu is getting an early start in Florida this season. 

The Florida Department of Health reports doctors are seeing twice as many cases as usual for this time of year.  

Doctors are encouraging you to get a flu shot.  This year's vaccine covers several strains of flu, including the H1N1 virus.  

Last year you had to get two vaccines to cover H1N1 and the other strains.  

Dr. Julia Gill of Florida's Division of Disease Control says you should still get this year's shot, even if you had both vaccines last year.   "The flu virus is very changeable.  So the virus is different every year because of natural mutations in the virus and also people traveling worldwide and circulating different strains.  So that's why it's important that every year you get a new vaccine that will protect you against the current circulating strains."  

Dr. Gill says there is actually very little H1N1 flu in Florida right now.  Most of the current cases are caused by Influenza A.  Gill says the symptoms of all three flu strains are very similar.  

In addition to getting a flu shot, Dr. Gill reminds you to pay attention to the little things you can do to stay healthy.   "Wash your hands often and be careful what you're touching, touching your eyes or nose or face, because you can actually touch an infected surface and infect yourself that way."  

Gill says everyone older than six months should get vaccinated.   The state Department of Health reports nearly 200 Floridians died of complications from the H1N1 flu strain last season. 

It hit people with chronic diseases especially hard.  That's why doctors are urging people with underlying medical conditions, or who are pregnant, to talk with their doctors about getting a flu shot.

First Coast News

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