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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a report warning that flu season has come early-and it’s coming on strong. While in most years, incidence of flu picks up in January and peaks in February, the latest numbers from the last few weeks of November show that flu season has officially arrived.

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The annual flu season hit about a month early this year, and illness is now widespread in 48 states. Many cases are caused by a flu strain that tends to make people sicker. Experts have already begun predicting that this could be the worst flu season in nearly a decade.

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Traditional flu symptoms range from sniffles and chills to a high fever that keeps you home from work all week, or worse-flu lands 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills more than 30 thousand in this country alone. There are antiviral drugs that can make you feel a little better and shorten the illness’s duration.

Here are five things doctors say to do to help keep yourself flu-free:

1. Get a flu shot.
This one seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t get their flu shots. Only 37 percent of Americans got them last year, and it’s looking the same this year. There’s no guarantee that it will prevent your getting sick; the flu shot has been 60 to 70 percent effective in recent years. But it’s definitely worth a shot! Go to your doctor, a local clinic or one of many drug store chains that offer walk-in vaccination. It takes all of five minutes, kicks in after two weeks and will keep you flu-free through spring.

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