Flu season is officially off to an early start this year, according to researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service.

The team of public health experts analyzed national data on flu trends and warned in a report published today that noted the amount of flu activity recorded at this part of the season is the highest it has been in six years.

The researchers added, however, that the predominant strain of the flu virus that has been spreading this year is one of the strains targeted in this year's flu vaccine. While they noted concerns that the current method of producing most flu vaccines, which involves the use of chicken eggs, is not perfect, they emphasized the importance of getting a flu shot in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

While the severity and timing of flu outbreaks vary year to year, peak flu activity in the U.S. usually occurs during December through February, the researchers added.

Citing getting a vaccine as, "the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses," the CDC noted half the population didn't get one during the last flu season.

The CDC recommends avoiding close contact with sick people, limiting your contact with others when you feel sick and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, in order to prevent the spread of germs.

Other actions the CDC recommends to stop the spread of the seasonal flu include washing your hands often with soap and water; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and disinfecting surfaces that may have been contaminated with flu germs.

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