MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)-- Alabama's flu season ramping up earlier than usual this year.

Mobile seems to be "ground zero" as far as the number of flu cases reported, not just in the state, but the entire country.

People along the Gulf Coast are seeing the active flu season unfold.

"My coworker and her sister and her kids. With the flu? Mhm."

Doing what they can to keep from getting sick.

"Wash my hands. Cover my mouth whenever I cough. Just stay away from them as much as I can."

Some people are relieved to have already gotten the flu shot.

"It's very important. I don't want to get sick."

"I ensure all of my kids get the flu shot. Yes."

The latest flu report from the state health department is alarming.

It shows people in Alabama are experiencing flu symptoms at a higher rate than the national average.

In Mobile County that concern is even higher.

"In mobile we're up above six percent of hospital visits in emergency departments in mobile being for influenza-like illness. so it's a lot greater than the Alabama average and like three times greater almost than the national average," said Dr. Rendi Murphree with the Mobile County Health Department.

The state health department says the flu viruses circulating Alabama are all covered in the vaccine.

However Dr. Murphree says that's not a guarantee.

"The flu vaccine does contain protection against influenza virus A and B and yes influenza B and A is circulating right now but even within those categories there's lots of different varieties of those so it's really too early to tell how effective the current vaccine is against the viruses that are circulating right now."

According to the Centers for Disease Control last season more than 61,000 people died from the flu.

Dr. Murphree says it's not too late to get vaccinated this year.

"If you get the flu after getting a vaccine you're likely to have a much less severe illness so you can prevent hospitalization and even potentially death if you get the vaccine."

Across the nation B viruses are most common.

Along with getting vaccinated make sure you wash your hands often.

If you feel sick, see your doctor and try to stay home to keep from spreading it.

All of Mobile County Health Department’s branches offer the flu shot.

If you’d like to make an appointment visit their website or call 251-690-8889 Monday-Friday from 7:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can also call 251-690-8158 for the after hours nurse.

 

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