NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Cases of the flu in New York have almost doubled in just a week. It’s a national epidemic and the worst part of the season has yet to arrive.

As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, Centers for Disease Control has already declared it an epidemic nationwide, widespread in 26 states including New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

“It’s in large numbers across the board,” Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Commissioner of Health, Nassau County, said.

In New York, the number of people sick jumped 90 percent in just the past week.

According to the state health department there have been 7,826 flu cases so far compared to just 2,064 over the same period last year.

Barry Strobel said his mother-in-law is down and out with the flu, and she has already gotten her flu shot this season.

“She was just diagnosed today,” he said.

Doctors say even if you got the flu shot this year, you’re not necessarily immune. Experts say mutated strains spread like wildfire.

“At this point we are using the old vaccine that was developed before the strains were identified,” Dr. Benjamin Stein said.

Still, doctors urge patients to the flu shot. They say it can reduce how long the illness lasts and protect against other strains that may crop up.

Doctors say in addition to the flu shot, another top defense is simply washing your hands thoroughly and often.

“Don’t touch your face. The eyes and nose are a portal for entry,” Dr. Eisenstein said.

While February is usually peak flu season, doctors say we can help it slow down and prevent another spike by taking the recommended precautions.

So far, 15 deaths have been linked to the flu this season. Experts say there can be 20 to 30-thousand deaths over a year.

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