In fact the last time a typical flu season started this early was the winter of 2003-04. That also happened to be a year when the dominant flu type was the same one seen most widely this year. And in that year, there were a higher-than-usual number of flu-related deaths in both the elderly and children.
One key difference: In 2003-04, the flu vaccine was a poor match to the flu strain.
Another: There’s more vaccine now, and flu vaccination rates have risen for the general public and for key groups like pregnant women and health care workers.
In all, an estimated 112 million Americans have been vaccinated so far, the CDC said. Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone who is 6 months of age or older.