Flu cases on the rise, experts say get vaccinated

If you didn't get your flu shot yet, you may want to change your mind. Flu season has arrived early in Pennsylvania. The state Department of Health says the number of cases has doubled in the past week.

The Health Department has classified the flu season as a “widespread problem,” their highest ranking, meaning more than half the state is experiencing outbreaks of the flu.

“It's hard to predict how long and how severe the season will be. It all depends on when we peak,” said Holli Senior of the Health Department.  “Right now, we're just on our way up. We know that at least in the coming weeks we're going to see a lot of influenza.”

This week, the state would normally see between 50 and 250 cases. Instead, the health department is dealing with 448.

Ashley Murtoff is busy dealing with the holidays. She's out with the family and the flu is the last thing on her mind. Her kids are vaccinated, but she's not.

“I haven't gotten sick,” she said. “I'm not out all the time working around people. I'm a stay at home mom, I really don't need it.”

But the state says everyone should get the shot.

“We know that the vaccine is well matched with the strains that are circulating throughout the commonwealth and we want to remind folks it's important to do so before you get together for the holidays,” Senior said.

But what about those who say they won't get the shot because it could make them sick? The state says that's not true.

“If you do get sick after you receive the vaccine, it is likely that you were already becoming ill before you got the vaccine,” Senior said. “Getting vaccinated is the single most effective way to protect yourself against influenza.”

The Health Department says the most common flu strain circulating in Pennsylvania right now is the strain that is associated with severe complications. Officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot, there is still plenty of vaccine available.

For more information on the flu, www.health.state.pa.us.

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