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Flu Hitting Younger Adults Hard, Vaccination Helps

Hospitalizations, deaths up for people 18 to 64

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Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said six of his patients in the last three weeks -- mostly young adults -- who were vaccinated still had symptoms and tested positive for influenza after a nasal swab test.

He urged people who think they have the flu to see their doctors sooner rather than later if flu symptoms arise. "It's important to see a physician if it's in the first 24 to 48 hours because you can treat with [the antiviral drug] Tamiflu, even in people who have been vaccinated," said Horovitz.

People at high risk for flu complications include pregnant women, people with asthma, diabetes or heart disease, the morbidly obese and people older than 65 or younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine. "This season vaccinated people were substantially better off than people who did not get vaccinated," Frieden said.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stressed it's not too late to get a flu shot.

"I want to remind you that the season is not over and things could change," she said at the press conference.

Horovitz said to prevent flu infection, practice good hand washing and avoid touching your face. Also, avoid kissing on the face when someone is sick, and steer clear of people who are coughing.

"If you're walking behind someone coughing who has flu, even outdoors, droplets are more sustained in cold air than warm air, so cover your face," Horovitz added.

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