Health officials warn of 'severe' flu season

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The flu season begins October 1 and runs through May.

Though researchers are working hard behind the scenes to develop more effective vaccines, you should still aim to be proactive about your health.

The vaccine this year may not offer much protection at all. The situation in Australia suggests this flu season could be even worse.

That does not bode well for the United States, experts say. This year, experts are warning that flu season will be particularly nasty-in part, they believe, because of a less effective vaccine.

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The flu vaccine may not be as protective as doctors hoped. In short, prevention is always better than cure; the best defense against the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine.

Only two states, Oklahoma and Louisiana have widespread flu.

While the outlook for the USA flu season is grim, Dr. Fauci maintained that Americans should still take the time to get a vaccination.

The Georgia Department of Health reports there is flu activity in the state, with 22 people ending up in the hospital due to influenza.

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The high prevalence of influenza A viruses in recent years is a particular problem for the current generation of vaccines, Fauci and his colleagues wrote. "Some of them are very mild, and some of them are severe", Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), tells Bustle.

The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 50 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu.

The CDC recommends avoiding close contact with sick people, limiting your contact with others when you feel sick and covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, in order to prevent the spread of germs. Dr. Fauci also tells Bustlethat people can lower their risk of catching the flu this winter by practicing proper hygiene, and washing their hands frequently. The most common side effects from the influenza vaccine are soreness, redness or swelling at the site of the injection and, in some cases, a low-grade fever, headache or muscle-ache.

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