First flu cases of the season reported in Maine

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"As much as 10 percent of the USA workforce will get the flu this year, with 17 million workdays lost as a result", said Cline.

Doctors are using Australia as a model for our flu trends since they experience winter before us. and Australia had a different season than usual, "they've had their worst year in the last 10 years".

"We want to remind people that before influenza starts to circulate around the USA, now's a good time to get vaccinated and really start thinking about flu and get prepared for the upcoming season", said Epperson, lead author of the flu update published October 11 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older.

Scientists make the vaccine before the flu season starts by predicting which flu strains are likely to be the most common during the upcoming season. That vaccine has four times the amount of antigen than a regular shot.

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"If you get sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others", Dr. Acton said.

Every season the flu sickens millions of Americans, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands and kills tens of thousands, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Studies show that in older people who do not live in a care facility, the flu vaccine can cut the risk of hospitalization (for flu and pneumonia) by 30% to 70%. "Most insurance plans will cover the shot, including Medicare".

As part of a push to help keep residents healthy this flu season, the Madison Health Department will be providing free vaccinations twice this month at the Chisholm Community Center.

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