Flu season comes early, hits hard CDC says

(CBS News) Government health officials warn of another looming crisis, as flu season kicks off to an atypically early and strong start.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five states -- Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas -- have reported higher-than-normal reports of flu, an uptick that is usually not seen until after Christmas.

Three school systems in Tennessee have closed for the week, because of the high number of students and teachers struck by the flu.

Dr. William Schaffner, the former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, spoke with CBS News' Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell about the early flu season and preventative measures to guard against the flu.

He called this flu strain "early, serious, and caused by a virus that causes more serious illness" and urges everyone to get vaccinated. He added that it's "not too late to get vaccinated" and explained that the vaccine is highly effective. "The vaccine is right on target ... we've got a good vaccine, we need to use it," Schaffner said.

Schaffner also refuted the common belief that the flu vaccine can cause flu-like symptoms, calling it an "old myth" and insisting, "it's just not true."

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