Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    CDC: Flu Season Hits Early and Could Be a Bad Year

    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Dec. 3, 2012 -- The U.S. flu season is here -- the earliest start since the "moderately severe" season of 2003.

    Just as in 2003, the nasty H3N2 flu bug is causing most cases so far.

    "This could be a bad flu year," warned CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. "Because of that, we are particularly encouraging people not vaccinated yet to do it."

    Fortunately, this year's flu vaccine protects against the H3N2 bug.

    The CDC's flu-tracking system shows that flu-like illnesses are widespread in five states:

    • Alabama
    • Louisiana
    • Mississippi
    • Tennessee
    • Texas

    Georgia and Missouri have moderate levels of activity.

    Flu-Tracking Systems

    It takes time for reports to reach the CDC. Its reports are a week old the day they are made. Other flu-tracking systems are more timely, although not based directly on doctor-reported illnesses.

    WebMD's Cold and Flu Map, based on cold and flu symptoms entered into the WebMD Symptom Checker, shows "severe" flu activity in:

    • Alabama
    • Georgia
    • Mississippi
    • South Carolina
    • South Dakota

    It suggests "moderate-severe" activity in most southeastern, south central, and central states, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii.

    Google Flu Trends, based on Internet searchers for flu-related topics, shows high national flu activity. The greatest flu activity, according to Google Flu Trends, is currently in:

    • Alaska
    • Georgia
    • Louisiana
    • Mississippi
    • Tennessee

    The Flu Near You map, based on weekly self-reported flu symptoms, shows high activity throughout the South.

    "It is just a matter of time where we will have high flu activity across the nation," says Melinda Wharton, MD, acting director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

    Flu Vaccine Supply

    Vaccination remains the best way to avoid the flu. So far this year, the CDC estimates that 112 million Americans already got their flu shots (or sniffs of the nose-spray vaccine). That would be about 37% of the vaccine-eligible U.S. population over age 6 months.

    Manufacturers have shipped 123 million of this year's expected 135 million doses of flu vaccine.

    So far, the CDC says nobody who wants flu vaccine is having trouble finding it.

    "We are similar in vaccine [supply and demand] to last year," Frieden said. "We did not have a shortage last year, and expect no shortage this year."

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow