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Early Start to Flu Season

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MANKATO, Minn. -

It looks like the flu wants to get a jump on the holiday season.

Though flu season typically does not hit until January or February, local emergency rooms have already been seeing cases.

Dr. Scott Helmers with Mayo Clinic Health System Mankato says, "Actually last week I saw 2 separate cases of influenza."

Like the emergency room, the Hy–Vee cold and flue aisle has already seen some early action too.

Hyvee Pharmacist Mark Erickson says, "I want to say it was like January of last year that we saw more people coming in."

Health experts say the flu season is off to its earliest start in almost a decade.

There are lots of things you can buy to help relieve the symptoms of flu, but doctors and pharmacists would rather help you before you even get in this aisle.

Erickson says, "I mean we can do things after they have it but it as lot more uncomfortable to be going through all those symptoms when we have vaccinations so readily available."

Well almost readily available, both Hy–Vees in Mankato have seen such up tick in people coming in for the flu shot they actually ran out yesterday and had to order more.

If you aren't among the estimated 112 million Americans – more than a third of the nation – that have already received flu shots this season, doctors say now is the time.

Helmers says, "Definitely people should have a flu shot, it is not perfectly effective, but it doesn't cut down the risk a great deal and it also modifies the flu if you get it anyway."

If you still need that extra push to lift up your sleeve, federal health officials say the most common strain this year tends to make people sicker than usual, but they are encouraged because this year's vaccine seems to protect against it.

Helmers says, "Flue strains that are around have been contained by the vaccine so importantly the vaccine should be effective."

If you are worried about getting the flu *from the shot, doctors say the injection is not a live virus, so that is not possible. Some people can get a slight fever or aches from any vaccination but doctors say it's nothing compared to if you actually get the flu