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Dr. Rachel: Why this year’s flu season is so bad

NEW ORLEANS -- This flu season has been especially brutal, and Louisiana is one of the states hit hard.

Our teaching doctor, Dr. Rachel Reitan, has received tons of emails recently about the flu.

Here are the answers to some of the most popular questions:

Q: Why is this year's flu season so bad?
A: Influenza A H3N2 virus dominates this year's flu season, and the virus is linked to more severe illness.

Q: My friend has had the flu twice this year. How is that possible?
A: People can get infected with the H3H2, recover and then get infected with another flu virus such as H1N1, so yes you can get the flu more than once in a season, which is unfortunate.

Q: Should I still get the vaccine?
A: The flu vaccine is not as effective against H3N2 viruses. But the CDC is also seeing an increase in the B flu virus and H1N1 -- those are the viruses that the vaccine is targeting, so that is why we still recommend the flu vaccine this year.

The flu can make people more vulnerable to secondary infections like bacterial pneumonia, so people 65 and over need to make sure that they get the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine as well.

Most children have already been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease from shots they got when they were infants or toddlers but please check with your child`s pediatrician.

We have not reached the peak of the flu season yet, so wash her hands often, get started on Tamiflu, and stay home if you are sick.