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Where does the flu hit hardest in the US, and when?

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The novel coronavirus has been getting a lot of attention since coming on the scene in December, but the truth is the seasonal flu virus is currently a much bigger threat to Americans.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the flu has caused 180,000 hospitalizations and killed about 10,000 people, including 68 children.

Despite widespread fear and uncertainty over coronavirus, a vaccine expert says the bigger threat to Americans is an illness that millions of people in the country catch every year.

“The three biggest risks to Americans: No. 1 influenza, No. 2 influenza, No. 3 influenza,” said Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group.

"It's very sad because we do have ways to reduce that. If everyone took a flu vaccination, your chances of dying are much smaller than if you didn't get vaccinated," said Lori Grooms, director of infection control and prevention for OSF HealthCare in Illinois.

It's not too late to get vaccinated — this year the flu season could run into April, Grooms said.

The seasonal flu and the novel coronavirus from China have a lot in common. They are both upper respiratory infections that affect people differently — some get the virus and exhibit no symptoms at all, and some people become gravely ill.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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