It usually breaks out in January, but this year, the flu season has arrived early, and it could be worse than last year. But as YNN's Mark Goshgarian explains, an early shot of prevention could better people's chances of staying healthy this winter.
JAMESTOWN, N.Y. - It doesn't really hurt.
"A little pinch, a little bit but other than that it was almost painless," said Angie Damore, Pennsylvania resident.
Angie Damore got a flu shot Thursday to protect herself from getting sick.
"I also have young kids at home and I want to make sure I stay healthy, so I can keep my family healthy," said Damore.
With an influenza outbreak off to an early start across the nation, several cases have already been reported in the Southern Tier.
Health officials say the time is now to get a flu shot.
"Although you may get a vaccine, it does not prohibit you from actually getting the flu itself but it does cut down on some of the complications that you get from the respiratory illness," said Dr. Kevin Watkins, Cattaraugus County Public Health Director.
Dr. Watkins says this years vaccine is specifically designed to protect against the early strains of the virus.
"Normally we guess as to which virus will infect the population each year; well this year, we've called it right and so far so good," said Dr. Watkins.
Key symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and nausea.
"Well, I think people do need to take it seriously," said Julie Apperson, Chautauqua County Health Department Nurse.
Julie Apperson is a nurse at the clinic in Jamestown, and recommends those six months and older get vaccinated.
"People who have an immature immune system, elderly people, people with a weakened immune system, pregnant people can really have a grave outcome from influenza," said Apperson.
Damore urges people protect themselves and their loved ones.
"You want to keep your family, you know, infection free, not get sick, not get the flu, and you want to stay healthy," said Damore.
The vaccine is available by appointment at the Jamestown clinic on Mondays.