(WBNG Binghamton) It's National Influenza Month and the Centers for Disease Control alerts the public to prepare. Flu season started early and the virus looks strong.
Sneezing, coughing, fever, chills, muscles aches, all symptoms of the flu.
"I'm concerned about this year’s flu season because of its early start. It's unusual for us to see flu cases even before December," said Public Health Nurse, Marianne Yourdon.
The Broome County Health Department has already heard of 80 lab confirmed cases in the area, and says that's just the tip of the iceberg.
"Lab confirmed cases are just the tip of the iceberg because many people who are sick with the flu never go to the doctor," said Yourdon.
Those who do go to the doctors are often not tested for the flu.
"We try to reinforce the hand washing, good respiratory hygiene, making sure people use disposable tissues, the vampire sneeze where you sneeze into your arm," said Vice President of Medical Affairs at Lourdes Hospital, Robert Taylor.
The best option to avoid being down and out for a day or even weeks is to get the flu shot.
“The bottom line is the best way to protect yourself from the flu is the flu vaccine," said Yourdon.
It's easy to get. You can go to your physician, pharmacies, or the health department.
"The recommendations have changed. It used to be just focusing on the very young and the very old for getting the flu vaccine. Now it’s suggested that everyone gets the flu vaccine in the community," said Taylor.
For Lourdes Hospital it's a practice they are modeling. Employees are mandated to get flu shots.
99 percent of employees caring for patients have been vaccinated.
Those that have not will be wearing masks throughout the flu season.
More than a third of Americans have been vaccinated with the flu shot.
Health Officials from the Centers for Disease Control say this years strain is responding well to the vaccine.