Experts agree this is the worst flu season in recent years

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He tried to reiterate to the public that a flu shot is the best defense against influenza and that anti-viral medications like Tamiflu should never be considered a substitute for the vaccine.

Visitor restrictions take effect immediately at Henry Ford Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and Henry Ford Allegiance Health.

Health officials say that to make matters worse, the flu vaccine this year is only 30 to 40 percent effective against the strain of influenza that is causing the most sickness.

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Lee Health says that if you're suffering from flu-like symptoms, to visit your primary care physician, or a walk-in or urgent care center.

Officials say flu vaccine helps prevent infection for individuals who receive it and helps keep others healthy by making it harder for the virus to spread. "What's happening this year is that H3N2 strain mutated or changed, and that's what we're seeing". Still, Green said, the vaccine protects people from other influenza strains, can reduce the severity of the flu and its symptoms and protect against complications like hospitalization or death. Since children's immune systems are still developing, their complications due to the flu can be much more severe, and in some cases, fatal (20 children have already died of the flu this season).

The current flu season started earlier than in the past and is likely peaking, according to the CDC.

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The flu usually comes on suddenly.

People should also continue to practice good hygiene, like washing your hands, coughing into your sleeve, disposing used tissues and staying home if you're sick.

And data from hospitals across our area show the spike in just the last few weeks is undeniable.

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"Someday, of course, we hope to have a universal flu vaccine, one that attacks all influenza type viruses and provides protection that lasts for years", said CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. It's even more important for patients to see a doctor if they have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, or if they are young or elderly. Plus, vaccinefinder.org can help you locate a pharmacy giving flu shots close by. The Washington State Department of Health reports at least 29 deaths statewide. "So you get your vaccine now. and you're covering yourself for February, March and April".

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