Last updated: March 17. 2013 2:56AM - 10144 Views

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DO YOU have a fever? Sore throat, aching body and chills?

If so, there's a good chance you have the flu. If not, consider yourself fortunate.

In a story published Tuesday by Times Leader staffer Bill O'Boyle, the flu season started earlier this year and is more severe. More than 11,000 flu cases have reported this season across Pennsylvania. No one knows how many have gone unreported.

In most cases the flu is an uncomfortable, disruptive and seemingly endless inconvenience. In rare cases it causes hospitalization and can even be fatal.

If you have the flu, health care professionals recommend plenty of rest, consumption of clear fluids such as water and broth to stay hydrated as measures to ease the symptoms. A cool damp washcloth for fever; bundle up against the chills; over-the-counter medication for head and body aches, sore throats and congestion. If symptoms are more severe, call your doctor or if absolutely necessary, get to clinic or hospital if symptoms are severe.

If you don't have the flu it's not too late to consider a flu shot. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends a flu shot as early as October but later is better than never because the season can go for several more months. It takes about two weeks after application for the vaccine to provide protection against the flu.

Tuesday's story reported a shortage of vaccine. Availability is often variable but that shouldn't dissuade people from trying.

Call your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy or look at the website flushot.healthmap.org for a provider close to you.

One small shot in the arm could spare you lots of discomfort, not to mention missing work or a weekend of fun.

It's your choice.

Want a flu vaccine?

Use the vaccine locator at http://flushot.healthmap.org to find a provider near you.

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