BOSTON -- Flu season has barely begun and already, Massachusetts is in the national spotlight.
The centers for disease control and prevention says we are one of just four states now experiencing a widespread outbreak of the flu.
“Influenza is predictable in that it comes every year but not predictable when it's going to start and it seems to be starting now,” Dr. Alfred Demaria from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said.
#Flu season is spreading fast & MA is 1 of only 4 states (joining OK, LA, & GA) experiencing widespread activity according to the #CDC. The bad news? This year's vaccine is only 10% effective. #MAwx #Health #NewEngland #Boston25 pic.twitter.com/dSz0kdtACi— Lena Dziechowski (@LenaWeather) December 5, 2017
The DPH says lab-confirmed influenza A cases this season are already up to 97, more than twice as many as a similar period last year, when there were 47.
There are also nine times as many confirmed influenza B cases this year over last.
“We're encouraging people to get vaccinated because it's the best way we have ahead of time to try and prevent influenza and the complications of influenza,” Demaria said.
Most flu cases cause short-term misery, but the CDC says flu-associated illnesses kill thousands of Americans each year.
One thing to consider though, is that the early start to flu season doesn’t necessarily mean it will be severe.
In addition to the flu shot, hand washing, sanitizing and avoiding other people who appear sick are the best ways to avoid catching the virus.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.