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Flu season could be the worst in nearly a decade

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Fighting the flu may be tougher this year, as more people are expected to be sick.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase  tells us why the shot might not be as effective as flu season hits.

According to this report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of people with the flu reached over two hundred and fifteen thousand by the middle of October in Australia, nearly three times more than the H1N1 pandemic nearly a decade ago.

Medical professionals say they're unsure what that means for patients here but there are a few things you need to know to keep your family healthy.

Laura Spicer, Executive Director Valley Health, "Thousands of people get sick from the flu each year. Many are hospitalized and some die."

Between twelve-thousand and fifty-six-thousand deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

And the vaccine may not be enough to stop H-3-N-2, the strain that's already ripped through Australia.

"They usually formulate the vaccinations based on the last year's outbreak," says Spicer.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the vaccine had a ten percent effectiveness against the flu in Australia.

"The effectiveness changes from year to year," says Spicer.  

But healthcare providers say you should still get the flu shot.

"We still recommend at least through January to get the vaccination," says Spicer.

The groups medical professionals say are at risk for the flu, older people and pregnant women.

Some symptoms of the flu include fever, cough and sore throat.

It can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider.