The flu is widespread in Massachusetts and across the country

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CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)- Doctors suggest we’re nearing the peak of one of the worst flu seasons in years. No matter where you go in the United States…the flu is widespread.

The tell-tale signs: nasty fevers, headaches, muscle pains, coughs and running noses…much like a very bad cold.

“I guess I would just take precautions to be safe and to protect myself from people who do have the flu”, says Anna Hawthorne of South Hadley.

There are four different types of the flu, A-B-C-D. A universal vaccine has not yet been developed, making it less effective than other modern day vaccines like the chicken pox or measles. A year with a 60% effective flu vaccine is a good year.

Dr. Daniel Skiest from Baystate Medical Center told 22news that even in mild years up to 40 thousand people die from the flu.

Nearly 80 percent of people diagnosed with the flu this season were diagnosed with the H3N2 strain, which is a particularly hard strain of the flu for humans to fight. Doctors have found in years past that when this strain of the flu is circulating, the vaccine is less effective.

“It’s not as good as we would like, but it’s still worth getting a vaccine because even if it doesn’t protect you from getting the flu, it probably prevents you from getting severe complications from the flu in many cases”, says Dr. Skiest.

The Center for Disease Control’s weekly report shows that last week, 244 people were diagnosed with the flu in Western Massachusetts alone. 518 were diagnosed this year, which is the highest number in the state.

Across the country, this year’s flu has claimed the lives of 20 children.

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