Summer is over and Fall is in full swing, and that means flu season is back.
"What we're seeing now is there actually have been more cases earlier than before," Dr. Jill Hectman said. She is an OBGYN and family doctor in Tampa.
Although flu season has just begun and some cases of the virus have already began showing up, Dr. Hectman doesn't believe flu cases are on the rise.
"But because we're seeing them so early we're urging our patients to get flu vaccines," Dr. Hectman said.
Those who need the vaccine the most are those at higher risk such as kids, pregnant women, and the elderly.
"If you get the vaccine it will prevent the infection and if you do get the infection it will lessen the course of the infection," Dr. Hectman said.
If you want to find out how prevalent the flu virus is in your area. Well of course you can ask your doctor or you can go online to websites like WebMD which offers a cold and flu symptom tracker . There you just type in your zip code and it will tell you how severe your risk is in your area.
In downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Tampa, the tracker showed a moderate risk for flu symptoms in both areas.
Even though it's moderate now, the website can help let you know if the flu begins spreading.
"The benefit I see in the website is that it will urge people to say oh wow, we really do have a problem in our area, maybe we need to go and get our flu vaccine," Dr. Hectman said.
The best defense of course is to be proactive. Wash your hands, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and exercise.
If you are ill then stay home, but if you do have to get out Dr. Hectman has some advice.
"If you're in a crowd of people and you need to cough or sneeze, make sure you do it in your elbow, don't use your hands because then of course you're touching other things and shaking people's hands and that spreads infections."
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