Flu season is finally here - its latest arrival in 25 years

A woman gets a flu shot during the 2011-2012 season.
A woman gets a flu shot during the 2011-2012 season.
Lance McCord/Flickr Creative Commons

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It took its sweet time getting here, but flu season has finally taken hold in the U.S., and California is leading the way.

While traditional flu season can kick in as early as October and is typically over by late February, this year the Centers for Disease Control says widespread flu is only being reported now. It's the slowest start to the flu season in a quarter of a century.

The last time for flu to see such a late start was in 1987.

A mild winter may have something to do with it, but no one seems to be sure.

"The timing of flu seasons is unpredictable and can vary in terms of when the season starts, when it peaks and when it ends," says the CDC in a press release. But, they added, "It's not too late to vaccinate."

The first reports of an outbreak came from California over the past couple of weeks, and Missouri has since begun reporting more flu-like cases.

And if you’re wondering whether it’s too late to get a flu shot, remember that flu season can go until May.

The CDC estimates that the flu results in an average of more than 200,000 related hospitalizations and between 3,300 to 49,000 deaths each year in the United States (depending upon the severity of the season).