Flu season in U.S. peaks early with stronger strain

PHILADELPHIA (WEWS/WFMZ/CNN) - An outbreak of a serious strain of the flu virus is spreading quickly across the U.S.

At least 41 states are reporting widespread flu cases weeks ahead of the usual peak flu season and more people are going to the hospital due to illness.

A public emergency was declared and emergency rooms swamped in Boston, where the city plans to offer free flu vaccines this weekend.

The governor of New York encouraged others to get a flu vaccine while he got one as health reports indicate flu cases are five times higher than a year ago.

In Pennsylvania, one hospital set up a tent to isolate milder flu cases from more serious ones in a state that has 11,000 confirmed cases so far.

In Minnesota, some hospitals are imposing restrictions on visitors stemming from the spread of influenza.

"We're still recommending everyone get vaccinated. It's still not too late to get vaccinated. That's very important to know," said Dr. Robert Glatter.

Doctors state it takes nearly two weeks for the shot to take effect. Doctors also warn that some that are vaccinated still get the flu.

Health officials state this year's flu vaccine is a good match for the powerful strain of flu. Doctors state the vaccine is a good one, but it's not perfect, working better for the young and healthy than on older persons.

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