Virginia has had six reports of the flu since Sept. 1, according to the state health department. Officials said that’s on par with the same time period last year.
Em Stephens, a spokeswoman for Virginia’s health department, said the number of flu cases confirmed in a lab are an undercount of the number of people who contract the flu.
“Most people who get it don’t report it or seek care,” she said.
The District had confirmed two cases of the flu as of Thursday, which is similar to the same time period last year, said John Davies-Cole, an epidemiologist for the D.C. Department of Health.
Robert R. Neall, the secretary of Maryland’s Department of Health, said in a statement that it’s not clear if “flu activity this early indicates a particularly bad season on the horizon.”
Neall said people should “get your flu shot now,” noting that vaccines are frequently available in grocery stores, health clinics or pharmacies. The flu vaccine is recommended for those older than 6 months.
People generally catch the flu between October and May. Many jurisdictions encourage the public to get the flu vaccine, which protects against both influenza A and B, officials said.
Even with a flu shot, officials said, it takes about two weeks before the “body’s full immune response kicks in,” according to Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy secretary for public health.
The flu can pose a serious health risk for children younger than 5 and adults older than 65. Pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system also are vulnerable to complications from the flu, according to health experts.