Flu activity across the United States surged in early February, and infections could continue to increase until March, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Deaths from flu-related conditions are at high levels, and the CDC reported that hospitalizations for children under 4 and adults over 65 are up. Hospitalizations for people in their 50s and 60s are also increasing. Health officials state that it is not too late to get a flu shot — the vaccine takes effect in about two weeks. Flu activity is especially severe now in the South, some Midwestern areas and in the East, particularly Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Circulating viruses include H3N2, H1N1 and B, which are all contained in this year’s flu vaccine.

The CDC continues to recommend that anyone 6 months old and older get a flu shot. The high-risk group includes the elderly, chronically ill and pregnant women. Mothers of newborns should also be vaccinated to protect their newborns, who cannot receive the vaccine until they’re 6 months old.

For people 65 years and older, the high dose vaccine is recommended. The CDC reports that typically the flu vaccine is between 40% and 60% effective. If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza can help if taken very early.

During a typical flu season, complications such as pneumonia send more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital. Death rates fluctuate annually but have been reported as high as 49,000 in a single year.

RVNA continues to provide flu shots at 27 Governor Street during normal business hours. Most insurances are accepted, and no appointment is necessary. Information: 203-438-5555.