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This nasty flu season, which has been worsening for months, may finally be leveling off.

William Brawley / Flickr

It's already been one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Now, you can add a late-blooming, but hard-hitting, allergy season to the list of reasons for some Florida residents' sinus miseries.

Florida Department of Health

While the flu is causing problems around the country, the number of students and teachers infected in Pinellas County has increased this year.   

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The flu has forced one school in Pinellas County to close and others in the Tampa Bay area to send warnings home to parents.

A particularly bad flu virus is burning through Florida and health officials say people can still protect themselves—and others.

“Getting vaccinated can prevent flu in yourself, but it also may prevent flu in people who you are not infecting,” says Dr. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Especially for young children or people who are at high risk of flu, it's very important that people around them are vaccinated.”

Central Florida is seeing a spike in flu cases. Florida Hospital’s urgent care Centra Care locations saw 1,200 cases last week.

Florida Department of Health

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

This year, the flu season is expected to be among one of the worst to hit the United States.   

Influenza season is at its peak nationwide, and Florida is no exception. That's obvious on the map at the Centers for Disease Control website.

Florida health officials said it's been a mild flu season so far, unlike the last three seasons when doctor offices were filled with patients before Christmas and illnesses peaked by late December.

Florida is a major player in widespread influenza reported in 43 states so far this season.

Levels of transmission have reached epidemic proportions, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say that a mutation in the flu virus may be to blame for the rising number of flu cases this year.

VA.gov

Veterans in Florida can now get a flu shot at any of more than 800 Walgreens locations and the drug store will electronically forward their immunization record to the VA.

It's a pilot program being tried out in the Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 (VISN8) which includes all of Florida, southern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It requires no paper record, no remembering at your next VA health care appointment.

Where to Get Flu Shot, and Why

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In 2014, health insurance plans will have to include, among many other preventive health benefits, a flu shot free of charge.