Typically the flu doesn't peak until February - but this year it's hit high levels already, especially in central New York. Dr. Mark Winther of Little Falls Hospital says this year we've experienced a bad flu season and it seems as if reported cases will continue to rise.
"Two years ago we had the H1N1 scare and it was really pushed that everyone get the flu shot. Last year wasn't as bad a flu season, and that immunity wanes over time that's why you should get it every year, and I think less of that stress and scare is there, so I think less people got that immunization."
If you catch the flu, Dr. Winther says you'll get sick pretty quickly.
"Usually it's got high fevers, tends to have constitutional symptoms like head ache, body ache, very uncomfortable, fevers and then respiratory, like a dry cough."
But he says it overlaps with other illnesses, so it can be difficult to diagnose - especially over the phone. If you have those symptoms, it's best to get checked out in person. There are flu tests out there, but they can be inaccurate. If you have the symptoms, haven't gotten the shot, are not getting better--even if your test is negative, chances are you've come down with the virus. When in doubt, see your doctor. Just because cases have spiked early though, doesn't mean flu season will end early. Dr. Winther says it's not too late to get the shot - as we'll most likely see cases until May. The only people who shouldn't get the shot are those you are less than six months old, anyone with egg allergies, or those who have the virus currently.
Once you get the shot, and antibodies have developed (which takes about two weeks) You can consider yourself well-protected against the virus, if you're young and healthy. Most complications and death are related to those over 65 years of age. Overall, don't blow off your symptoms. If you feel sick, listen to your body.