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Pennsylvania’s Flu Season Is Worst in Three Years

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(Flu shots are administered at a Philadelphia health clinic.   File photo by Steve Tawa)

(Flu shots are administered at a Philadelphia health clinic. File photo by Steve Tawa)

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CBS Philly (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSPhilly.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSPhilly.com/Health

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania is having its worst flu season in three years and people over 65 are being especially hard hit.

There are about 11,000 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania so far this season, and 22 deaths.

Eighteen flu deaths were reported last week alone and, of the 22 total deaths, 20 of the victims were over the age of 65.

The most common strain doctors are seeing this year is A/H3N2, which is known to cause severe illness in older age groups.

The good news, says Pennsylvania health secretary Michael Wolf, is that the A/H3N2 strain is covered by this year’s flu vaccine.

“If they have not been vaccinated yet,” he advises, “please go get your flu vaccine.  And there are other things that can be done — including, if you are sick, please stay home.  Wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizer.”

(Distribution of flu cases reported in Pennsylvania this season by county, 10/02/12 - 01/05/2013.  Graphic from Pa. Health Dept.)

(Distribution of flu cases reported in Pennsylvania this season by county, 10/02/12 – 01/05/2013. Graphic from Pa. Health Dept.)

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Wolf says the state is prepared to deal with the flu and not considering the drastic measures that have been taken in some other parts of the country, but he says the peak of the season is still a few weeks away.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXTENDS FLU SHOT CLINICS:  see announcement (.pdf format)

In South Jersey, the flu outbreak is rated as “moderate.”  New Jersey has had more than 900 flu cases so far this season.

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