DENVER (CBS4)– Doctors across the U.S. are warning this could be a brutal flu season. Already 52 people across Colorado have been hospitalized for the flu.

Last year during this same time there were only eight people that had hospitalized.

Most flu cases have been reported in the Denver metro area with 15 in Denver and 16 in Arapahoe County. The flu season doesn’t usually hit with a vengeance until after Christmas.

Doctors said the flu this year is the worst in a decade. They believe this year the flu is hitting earlier because the virus is stronger, more contagious and harder to fight.

“It will feel like you’ve been run over by a truck,” said CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida.

The flu virus that struck during the 2003-2004 flu season is blamed for nearly 48,000 deaths.

Hnida believes the strand this year may be the same one, that has strengthened over time, “It’s the type of flu that makes you sicker than you might be and it’s more contagious.”

The flu has hit the Southern states the hardest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas have recorded higher-than-normal cases not typically seen until after Christmas.

Doctors said with so many opportunities to get vaccinated, getting the flu shot has never been more important.

“If it doesn’t completely protect you it will at least lessen how sick you get and how long you’re sick,” said Hnida.

A study by the University of Minnesota calls the vaccine only 60-70 percent effective. Critics believe the process for producing the vaccine is outdated.

They are calling for faster, more specific ways to target which strain of the flu is spreading for vaccines.

Still, doctors believe the vaccine available for this year is right for this year’s virus.

“I think the technology is there, I just think we need fine tuning on how the process works,” said Hnida.


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