When Will Flu Season Start?

Flu shot being injected into patient.
(Image credit: AZP Worldwide | Shutterstock.com)

It may be late fall, but there's not much flu going around in the United States so far this season, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between Oct. 4 and Nov. 28, the percentage of people visiting the doctor who were there because of a flulike illness was just 1.9 percent, which is actually slightly lower than the percentage typically seen in the "off season," or the summer months, the report said.

And during the last week of November, 44 states reported minimal flu activity (the level of activity that's normal for the off season), while just two states (Oklahoma and South Carolina) reported increased, or moderate flu activity. No states reported high flu activity.

"[Flu] Activity is still really low," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the CDC's Influenza Division. "There are multiple ways that we measure flu activity ... [and] any of that data that you look at, there's just not a lot going on fluwise," Brammer said. [6 Flu Vaccine Myths]

And the start of flu season is hard to predict, Brammer said. Last year, flu activity started to rise in late November and peaked in December. Sometimes, flu outbreaks can start as early as October, while in other years, flu activity has not increased until February.

"You will start to see it begin to increase, but it's really hard to predict when it's just going to really kick in and take off," Brammer told Live Science.

But because flu activity has remained low so far this season, there's still a large benefit to getting a flu shot if you haven't done so already.

"Now would be an excellent time to get a flu shot," Brammer said. "Activity is really low, so you can get your shot [and] your body will have time to build up antibodies, hopefully before activity really picks up significantly."

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, the CDC says. The flu viruses circulating this season are a good match to the flu viruses included in the 2015-2016 flu shot, the report found. However, studies will still be needed to determine how effective this season's flu shot is, the CDC said.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.