Flu season could be rougher than usual this year

'Tis the season.

No, we aren't talking about the holidays, but flu season. 

And this year, there's concern it could be rougher than usual. Early reports are questioning the effectiveness of this year's vaccine.

The sniffing, the coughing the fever. It's the hallmark of the influenza virus, and now comes word that this year’s vaccine may only be 10% effective.

Every year the experts try to predict which strain of the virus will be going around to make the vaccine.

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, this year’s vaccine is only 10% effective because the virus mutated. Australia, which uses the same type of vaccine and generally has its flu season during the U.S. summer, is seeing record high numbers of cases and higher hospitalizations.

Right now, there are reports of widespread flu activity in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma. 

Dr. Dino Rumoro is the chair of emergency medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Rush invented and uses a computer program called the Guardian. It's a real time reporting software program that can detect an outbreak of an infectious disease such as the flu very early.  

Reports of flu in our area are currently only sporadic. But health officials expect that to change in the next 4-6 weeks as the flu season gets into high gear.

So if you want more protection than just what the vaccine can offer, Dr. Rumoro says here's some tips worth repeating. We've heard them before. Wash your hands. The virus lives on doorknobs and other things people touch. Don't share drinking glasses or eating utensils. Use hand gel and be mindful of coughing or sneezing by covering your mouth and not spreading germs.

Finally, if you do start experiencing a cough or, sore throat with a fever, act quickly and see your doctor. Anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu are only good within 48-72 hours after the onset of symptoms.

Here's a home remedy that can help. Just last week, a report in the Journal "Chest" found a bowl of chicken soup might have anti-inflammatory effects and can ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections from the cold and flu. The best news is it doesn't have to be home made.