RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you've noticed more people missing work or coughing and sneezing, we know why. The CDC is reporting that five states, including Virginia, had widespread reports of flu last week.
The parking lot at Patient First is packed right now, but most of these people likely don't have the flu. We aren't seeing widespread activity in Richmond yet, so it's a still a good time to get your flu vaccine if you haven't already.
"We are starting to see a little bit of influenza; it is starting to creep in, but it is not the biggest part of what we are seeing; it's other respiratory illnesses," said Dr. Kenneth Lucas.
Doctors say that means you should get a flu shot now, before they start to see more cases.
"Certainly there's still plenty of time. It would be nice if you had gotten it two weeks ago, a little bit ahead, but still, there is a major benefit to taking the flu shot," said Lucas.
This year's vaccine seems to be working against the flu that's cropping up, and it can help even if you still wind up getting sick.
"Even if you do get the flu and you have had the vaccine, you do tend to get a milder case," Lucas said.
To protect yourself from all illnesses, including the flu, use common sense like frequent hand-washing.
"All the things your mom told you to do; take care of yourself; eat right; drink plenty of fluids," Lucas added.
The other states seeing widespread flu activity include Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and New York.
To find a flu vaccine near you, you can visit Google's flu vaccine finder at flu.gov. All you have to do is put in your zip code. You can also check to see if your local health department is offering free vaccines.