VIRGINIA BEACH-- Flu season is off to an early start this year and the Centers for Disease Control says it could be a bad one.

According to Dr. Mark Hippensteil from Patient First on Indian River Road in Virginia Beach, it's not too late to get the flu vaccine. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks to receive maximum protection.

Hippensteil says the most popular question he gets is whether people can get a Z-pack prescription for the influenza virus. He says you have to wait-out the virus but it is important to come within 48 hours of feeling the symptoms in order to be effectively treated with Tamiflu.

Flu is contracted by inhaling respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. You can also become infected by touching an object contaminated by the flu virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Symptoms of flu include a high fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and shortness of breath.

Avoid spreading or getting the flu by:
Washing your hands often.
Coughing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow instead of your bare hand.
Getting a flu shot.

Dr. Hippensteil warns it is important to drink fluids because dehydration is usually the most dangerous symptom of the flu.

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