HEALTH

Flu Season Off To A Better Start Than Last Year, Centers For Disease Control Says

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 14:  Phamacist Prakash Deshpande injects a patient with influenza vaccine at a Manhattan pharmacy on January 14, 2013 in New York City. The state of New York has declared a public health emergency in a flu epidemic of more than 19,000 confirmed cases in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 14: Phamacist Prakash Deshpande injects a patient with influenza vaccine at a Manhattan pharmacy on January 14, 2013 in New York City. The state of New York has declared a public health emergency in a flu epidemic of more than 19,000 confirmed cases in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

Government health officials say the flu season seems to be getting off to more normal start this year than it did in the winter of 2012-13.

Reports of the flu have been increasing, particularly in the South. But nothing like last year, when flu hit the country early and very hard in early December.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday said last year's flu season landed about 381,000 people in the hospital — the most since at least 2005. A contributing factor is that the vaccine was only 51 percent effective overall in preventing people coming down with the flue.

CDC officials said it's too early to know how bad this winter will be in the end or when it will peak. Flu season usually is the worst in January or February.

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