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U.S. health officials brace for potentially bad flu season

In this Aug. 27, 2010 file photo, a nurse practitioner prepares a flu vaccination in Rockville, Md. A (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
In this Aug. 27, 2010 file photo, a nurse practitioner prepares a flu vaccination in Rockville, Md. A (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
By Lauran Neergaard Associated Press

WASHINGTON – It’s flu shot time, and health officials are bracing for a potentially miserable fall and winter.

The clues: The Southern Hemisphere, especially Australia, was hit hard over the past few months with a flu strain that’s notorious for causing severe illness, especially in seniors.

And in the U.S., small clusters of that so-called H3N2 flu already are popping up.

Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases calls that flu strain “the bad actor.”

Dr, Daniel Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s a chance the flu season in the U.S. could be similar to Australia’s, but health officials can’t say for sure.

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated.

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