Power Flu: H3N2

Bad Flu

Achooo and Bless YOU!

The United States is having its earliest flu season in nearly a decade and may see more severe illness than in recent years, so now is the time to get vaccinated, federal health leaders said Monday.

One of the predominant flu strains that is circulating -- influenza A H3N2 -- tends to cause more serious illness than other strains, noted Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It looks like it's shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell," he said.

Five states are now reporting high levels of influenza-like illnesses, making this the earliest start to a regular flu season since 2003-04. The season often doesn't begin until January or later.

The good news is that this year's vaccine appears to be a great match for the circulating strains, which means it should provide optimum protection, Frieden said.