Doctors warn the flu outbreak is much worse than last year

NEW ORLEANS -- This year's flu season is raising eyebrows as people are getting sick left and right across the nation and particularly here in Louisiana.

“What we've seen is that the flu has mutated over time," says Dr. Benjamin Springgate with LSU Health New Orleans.

That's the reason this year's flu season is so terrible. It’s also the reason why this year's flu vaccine is much less effective.

"Unfortunately, now more and more people are getting sick and our immune systems are not keeping up with the flu and that means more hospitalizations," says Springgate.

Springgate says he's seen many more people complain of flu-like symptoms in recent weeks. Doctor visits are four to five times higher than normal.

"It's certainly much higher than previously and it ends up filling up the emergency rooms, causing shortages of IV saline in hospitals and ultimately causing a lot of harm," says Springgate.

Our immune system can't keep up with flu virus mutations but that's still not a good enough reason to avoid getting a flu shot.

Dr. Springgate says it's like wearing a seatbelt. It's not 100% effective each time, but can prevent injury even death.

"It's important for everyone that they take advantage of that opportunity to get that flu shot," says Springgate.