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Flu season is underway and experts are already warning Arizona residents that it’s going to be a rough one. 

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Arizonans get the flu, roughly 4,000 are hospitalized, and about 700 die from the virus. But those numbers could be even higher in the 2019-2020 flu season; the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reports that 59 people have already contracted the flu since this year’s official flu season began on Sept. 29. 

That’s more than double the average number of cases at this time in the season, and the real number is likely much higher. Health officials say that many people choose not to visit the doctor when they’re sick and since cases are reported only after being confirmed via lab testing, the state’s number represents only a small percentage of the actual number of people with the virus.

The flu has been particularly active in Maricopa County, where 31 people have been diagnosed with the virus. No other county has more than seven confirmed cases. 

The flu is spread from person to person through small droplets sprayed while coughing, talking, or sneezing, according to the ADHS. People can also contract the flu by touching a surface with the virus on it, such as a doorknob or hand, and then touching their mouth or nose. 

Symptoms typically begin one to four days later and they include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body or muscle aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or respiratory symptoms without a fever.

Children, seniors and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to the flu.

In order to combat the flu, healthcare officials recommend everyone over 6 months old receive their flu vaccine before the end of October. Doctors say the flu shot is 40% to 60% effective, but will lessen the symptoms even if you do get the flu.

They’re also encouraging people to wash their hands regularly and stay home if they have the flu.

Most county health departments the flu vaccine. To learn more about information on immunization clinic hours and fees, please contact your county health department.

To locate a flu shot clinic near you, visit:

For more information on how to get the vaccine or learn more about flu prevention, you can visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network’s website.