The holiday season is coming to a close, but flu season is just getting started.
The flu is now widespread in 10 states, including neighboring New York and Massachusetts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It's a normal time of year for the flu to get here. It's getting here about the same time as it did last year,” said Dr. AJ Smally, Emergency Department Medical Director for Hartford Hospital.
Nationwide, influenza activity increased last week, according to the CDC, but the hardest hit areas include neighboring Massachusetts, which has seen 860 cases so far, and New York, which saw a 100 percent increase in patients with confirmed cases in just a week.
In Connecticut, the Department of Public Health says 285 positive influenza reports have been reported for the current season.
Dr. Smally said we’re seeing the same trend this flu season as we did last season.
“The curve is going up pretty much tracking identically to last year's,” said Dr. Smally. “Other years, the flu can come earlier or later, but it just so happens we're going a lot like last year.”
Medical officials said the H1N1 or "Swine Flu" strain from 2009 has been the most prevalent so far this year.
The strain usually affects children and young adults the worst.
This year's vaccine does protect against the strain, according to the CDC, so health care providers are still encouraging anyone over 6 months old to get a flu shot.
“Well the key is to get vaccinated, even now. Even though the flu is here now, it's just starting up. And it's gonna be several more weeks, so you should get your vaccine now," Dr. Smally said.
Traditionally flu season in New England is the worst in February or March and Dr. Smally and other physicians say doing everything you can now -- like washing your hands and avoiding touching your face -- can safeguard you all season long.