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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting an unusually early flu season that is continuing to intensify. In recent weeks, the number of states that have reported widespread flu activity has doubled. Here at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, multiple patients have already been diagnosed with influenza. It’s the earliest flu season since 2003-2004, which turned out to be one of the worst years, and especially deadly for children. This year, eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported already in the U.S. But here’s the good news: There’s a difference between this year and the 2003-2004 season. The CDC says that this year’s batch of flu vaccine is a very good match for the most common strains now circulating.  It’s more important than ever to get vaccinated to protect not only yourself but also your family and your community. If you haven’t been vaccinated against the flu yet, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Do it as soon as possible – it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. Encourage friends and family members to get vaccinated too. The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season.