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Flu season in the United States is having its earliest start in nearly a decade and health officials say this season could be a bad one.

Although flu is always unpredictable, the early nature of the cases and the predominant type circulating this year could make this a severe flu season, said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But officials said the vaccine formulated for this year is well-matched to the strains of the virus seen so far and urged those who have not been vaccinated to get a flu shot.

In early December, the CDC said it was noticing an uptick in flu activity about a month before authorities normally see it, and the earliest since the 2003-2004 flu season. The primary strain this season is the H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been associated in the past with more severe flu seasons.

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