PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Centers for Disease Control says 43 states, including Pennsylvania, are facing high or widespread flu activity.

In Allegheny County, 1,300 cases have been reported, as well as two deaths tied to influenza.

An epidemic has been declared, but merely indicates the flu is happening at a higher-than-normal level.

“It shouldn’t cause any scare or panic, but if people have not gotten their flu shot, it’s still not too late,” said Dr. Marc Itskowtiz with Allegheny Health Network, “even though this year the flu shot unfortunately is not as effective as we had hoped it would be.”

The government says the vaccine is only about 33 percent effective this year, because the main strain circulating is not a good match to the vaccine.

But Dr. Itskowtiz says a flu shot is still worth it.

“It’s still worth doing because it’s the best way to protect against the flu – 33 percent means that in a third of patients, we can prevent the flu from occurring,” he said. “It also means that for people that are getting the flu, who’ve been vaccinated, they may have a chance of having reduced flu activity. And keep in mind also that if protects against other strains that may not be covered, so it is our best weapon against the flu and in addition to good hand hygiene and avoiding people that are sick. We still recommend the flu shot, even in years like this where the vaccine is not as effective.”

Doctors also say pay particular attention to hygiene among school-aged children, especially this time of year when they’re returning to school from a long holiday vacation.

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