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At least 523 flu-related deaths in Arizona this season, officials say

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2005 file photo, Amanda Klopfer reacts as she is given a FluMist influenza vaccination in St. Leonard, Md. On Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, a federal panel says it's OK for doctors to start using the kid-friendly nasal spray flu vaccine again. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)

PHOENIX — Arizona continues to witness one of the deadliest flu seasons in the state’s history, with at least 523 pneumonia and influenza deaths to date.

Dr. Cara Christ, the director for the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that there have been more than 24,500 flu cases diagnosed in all of the state’s 15 counties.

“It looks like the vaccine is working as the CDC anticipated,” Christ said.

The CDC said this month that the flu vaccine has only been 36 percent effective. There’s only been one other time in the last decade when the flu vaccine did a worse job.

In the past week alone, Christ added, there have been nearly 1,000 new cases diagnosed. There have also been two flu-related pediatric deaths in Maricopa County.

“We’re seeing a huge numbers of cases, that’s why we like to say the flu is predictably unpredictable,” she said.

This year’s flu season has hit “earlier and harder” than normal, with a higher number of cases than the entire 2009-2010 season when there was a global outbreak.

Christ said it is not too late to get a flu shot, which is still the best form of prevention against the virus. She added that people should continue to wash their hands, avoid touching their face and stay home if they’re sick.

KTAR News’ Jim Cross and Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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