The Flu Is Already Widespread in 36 States, CDC Says

Flu season has kicked off in full force, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting Friday that influenza is already widespread in 26 states across the U.S.

The peak of the flu season typically comes in February. The disease is getting an early start this year thanks to cold weather that’s present across much of the United States. Making things worse is that this year’s flu vaccine is thought to only be 10-33% effective against this particular strain, USA Today reports. That means even people who received the vaccine could wine up catching the flu. For some perspective, the vaccine is traditionally 40-55% effective.

Despite the early outbreak, the CDC says its still to early to determine whether this season will be a particularly bad one for the flu. While it seems like the cards are already stacked against it, there have been cold winters before that haven’t resulted in higher-than-normal flu numbers.

Besides getting a flu shot, ways to prevent the flu include getting enough sleep, washing your hands regularly, and staying well hydrated.

Another important thing to note: it can take two weeks for a flu shot to fully build your immunity against the disease. That means it’s better for you to get one sooner rather than later.