iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Flu season is here, and federal health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that last year, the flu vaccine prevented 6.6 million Americans from getting sick and resulted in 3.2 million fewer doctor visits.
According to the CDC, this year, about 40% of people reported getting the flu vaccine by mid November, which is about three percentage points higher than that time last year.
But Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says flu activity could get worse as we head into winter.
"We're not where we were last year. Last year, we'd already had quite a lot of disease, but we really don't know what this flu season will be like, because most years, in 90% of years, the flu peaks between January and March," Dr. Schuchat said.
But don't worry - CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says there is still time to get immunized.
"Vaccinations ideally should occur before flu is circulating widely but as long as flu is still spreading, it's not too late to get vaccinated," Dr. Frieden said. "Flu vaccine in a vial doesn't do anyone any good. The more people the vaccinated, the more benefit to individuals, the fewer the hospitalizations, the fewer the illnesses and deaths."
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