Valley doctors want you to be prepared for flu season

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KSAZ) - In this week's Community Cares, the flu season is already upon us, and experts say brace yourself, this one could be worse than last year. Doctors at Banner University are ready and they want you to be armed as well.

"Influenza season over the last two years has been a little more severe than typical," says Dr. Sarah Thomas at Banner University.

Dr. Thomas and the rest of the staff at Banner University Medical are ready to fight the flu, especially after last year's outbreak.

"So we had a pretty strong year last year with more hospitalizations and more flu deaths than in previous years, and it looks like that season has rolled right into this season," said Dr. Thomas.

According to Banner, at least 523 people in Arizona died of influenza and pneumonia-related deaths last year. There was also more than 24,500 flu cases diagnosed in all of the state's 15 counties.

"We all get a cold sometimes, but the actual flu virus is much more serious than that, and we want to take precautions to avoid Influenza," said Dr. Thomas.

Dr. Thomas recommends anyone six months and older get a vaccine, but there are options.

"We prefer the flu shot, it is more effective, but for individuals who have severe allergies to the shot or a severe egg allergy, the flu mist is available," explained Dr. Thomas.

Experts say early is best when it comes to getting the flu shot. Also, wash your hands to avoid germs and keep surfaces clean.

This year's strain, called H3N2, could pack a punch, but experts hope they're ready.

"We're actually hoping that we now have the correct formulation for that flu virus and the vaccine, so that this year will be a little more mild," said Dr. Thomas.