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Vaccines struggled to guard against a particularly aggressive H3N2 influenza and hospitals reported shortages of some basic supplies — even before dealing with a surge in flu-related hospitalizations. The sick were told to stay home, and not visit their doctor unless it was an emergency.

Mueller said much of that can be avoided with the preventive step of an immunization before the flu spreads through a community. It not only protects the recipient, she said, but everyone they come in contact with.

“The start of the holidays is upon us, and we are going to see more elderly relatives and families with new babies,” she said. “While there are people who say they never get sick, they can carry the v