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Flu Season Different From Years Past - abc27 WHTM

Flu Season Different From Years Past

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Lynchburg, VA – Now that the area is well within the depths of flu season, we're starting to get a read on who it's been affecting the most.

This season, it's not the usual demographics.

According to the weekly influenza report put out by the CDC, the flu season has been unique for several reasons. Not just who it's hitting the hardest, but the type of flu as well.

With months left to go of flu season, the Centers for Disease Control is spreading the word about how fast the flu is spreading.

This year the main strain doctors are seeing is H1N1, or swine flu, the strain that caused a pandemic back in 2009 when it arrived in the U.S.

"People between the ages of 18 and 24 have never been exposed to this particular strain of influenza," said Haley Phillips Evans, Lynchburg Health Department Epidemiologist.

The CDC says 60% of flu-related hospitalizations this season have been people between 18 and 64 years old.

There may be another reason for the shift, however.

The CDC estimates only a third of people 18 to 64 were vaccinated before the start of flu season.

"Younger generations have not seen the widespread devastation of influenza outbreaks and they just aren't quite as diligent about getting flu shots," Evans said.

Evans says getting vaccinated is the most effective way to avoid getting sick.

"When a person with influenza coughs or sneezes, that infective dose can reach six feet away from that person," Evans said.

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of six months be vaccinated for the flu.

If you haven't gotten your shot there is still time. While the vaccine won't fully protect you from getting the flu, it does reduce your chances by about 60%.

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