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Flu Outbreak Spreading, Vaccine Urged

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A patient is given a flu shot Thursday. Health officials say the flu is now widespread in more than 40 states across the country. A patient is given a flu shot Thursday. Health officials say the flu is now widespread in more than 40 states across the country.
Montgomery Co., PA -

It's not quite an epidemic, but the flu is now officially considered widespread across Montgomery County, according to Pennsylvania state officials.  And so county officials are urging residents who have not been vaccinated yet to do so as quickly as possible.

The needle may be why so many people skip the flu vaccine.  But this winter, that's turning out to be a big mistake.  "Look, it's serious, and we're seeing the flu peak earlier, we're seeing it impact a lot of people.  560 known cases in Montgomery County, unfortunately three deaths," Josh Shapiro, the chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners told Fox 29.

State health officials expect the flu to keep spreading in the weeks to come.  But it's already taking a toll.  "It's pretty bad," 14-year-old Kelley Repsik insisted.  "There was a girl in my homeroom, she was in the hospital for like a day because her fever went up really high."  Her sister also attends Indian Valley Middle School in Souderton.  "We had six kids in class the other day," Bethany Repsik said.  And there's only 12 students in her math class, which meant half the class was out with the flu.  "We couldn't do anything because we were missing so many kids."

The twin Repsik sisters skipped school Thursday afternoon so their dad could take them to get their flu shots.  Their mom insisted on it.  "I have a singing recital coming up, so if I get sick and I get the flu, then I won't be able to do it," Kelley Repsik said.  "So she was like, go and get your shot."

Montgomery County officials want more people to do the same.  The county is offering free vaccines at their facility in Norristown, and in Pottstown and Willow Grove.  The county's health department director says we haven't seen the worst of it.  "Probably not," Dr. Joseph DiMino told Fox 29.  "Now flu can go into May, into mid-May.  So, it's never too late to get your flu shot."

County officials say the vaccine is 90 percent effective against several strains of flu.  So even if you've had the flu, it was only one strain.  You still will want to get vaccinated to get protection against the other strains.

Babies are among the most vulnerable to the flu.  Infants under six months of age are too young to receive the vaccine.  Health experts say that's why it's so important that everyone else in the home get vaccinated against the flu, to provide the baby with as much protection as possible.

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