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As flu season intensifies, how important is that flu shot?




The start of flu season is still weeks or months away, but you can get a flu shot now at many pharmacies.
The start of flu season is still weeks or months away, but you can get a flu shot now at many pharmacies. "It's a way to get people into the story to buy other things, says Tom Charland, an analyst who tracks the walk-in clinic industry.
Darron Cummings/AP

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Fever, muscle aches, cough, fatigue, chills. Yes. Flu season is in full swing. And this year looks to be more severe than normal.

Emergency rooms are overloaded, medicine is becoming scarce and the death toll is rising; 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October. 

"That is much worse than it was in previous years," said Michelle Faust, KPCC health reporter. "Nationwide and in California, flu activity is very high. And it's definitely spiking in the last couple of weeks."

The reason for the spike is that this current strain is particularly strong and holds up against the vaccine better than other strains.

But that doesn't mean people should skip getting the flu shot.

"If you get the flu shot, your flu symptoms are typically less than they would be without the vaccine," Faust said. "It's the difference between being sick and being admitted to the hospital."

Clarification: During this conversation, A Martinez told Michelle Faust that he had become ill after receiving the flu vaccine. To be clear: he did not mean to suggest the flu shot gave him the flu. There is no correlation there. He experienced what the Centers for Disease Control notes are possible side effects from a flu shot, including fever, headaches and muscle aches. Health professionals recommend everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccination.