5 ways to protect yourself from heart disease during American Heart Month

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s American Heart Month, meaning it’s the perfect time to for a refresher on heart disease and how to prevent it.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with 800,000 people dying each year from it. Nearly half of all Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that at least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke can be prevented.

People face an increased risk for heart disease when they don’t get enough physical activity, have poor diets and higher body weights, smoke cigarettes and have poor cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Here are some basics for preventing heart disease.

Be more mindful of the foods you eat.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more people are now eating foods that are high in calories, fat, added sugar and salt/sodium. Not enough people, on the other hand, are eating enough nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. These foods should make up the majority of someone’s diet, and WHO recommends eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Cardiologists at the Mayo Clinic suggest eating oily fish, such as salmon, tuna or sardines, twice a week to provide the body with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids — essential nutrients that lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Also, cook with olive oil, canola oil or peanut oils, as these are high in monounsaturated “good” fat and lower in saturated “bad” fats.

Get off the couch and out of the house.

The CDC recommends that adults partake in aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes at a moderate intensity (brisk walking, gardening or slow biking) or 75 minutes at a high intensity (walking uphill, jogging, running, swimming or tennis). Adults should also do strength training using free weights, weight machines or resistance bands on at least two days of the week, making sure to target every muscle group with moderate or greater intensity. If you need motivation, consider getting a dog so that you’ll be forced to go on walks or start a family hobby involving sports, such as a weekly soccer match.

Make sure you’re sleeping the recommended amount of hours.

Getting good sleep is important for several reasons, but with regard to the heart, not getting enough has been associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The recommended amount of sleep the average adult should be getting each night should be between seven to nine hours, according to the Mayo Clinic. Digital devices can contribute to lost sleep because the blue light they emit suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep. To avoid this from happening, most smartphones now have settings that allow you to change the light emitted from the screen to a red rather than blue color once the sun goes down. It’s possible this might improve sleep quality.

If you snore a lot or consistently feel fatigued during the day, you may have sleep apnea, a condition characterized by the throat muscles intermittently relaxing and contracting, and causing breathing to start and stop. If you think you have sleep apnea, see a doctor. Researchers have estimated that untreated sleep apnea may raise the risk of dying from heart disease by up to five times.

Make an effort to see your doctor for a once-yearly physical.

The best way to predict heart troubles is by visiting your doctor, who will assess your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight to figure out how your body and heart are doing. Chronically high blood pressure can put excessive strain on the heart over time. If your LDL “bad” cholesterol is higher than normal or your HDL “good” cholesterol is low — or you have both — your doctor may prescribe you medication that will help prevent a heart attack in the future.

Try your best to quit smoking.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, according to WHO. Not only does it cause heart disease, it is also a major risk factor for stroke, lung cancer and lung disease and damages nearly every organ in body, including the mouth, esophagus, cervix and colon. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous to those around you and increases their risk of these diseases and cancers.

It’s never too late to quit smoking. Quitting at any age adds extra years to your life, but the earlier you quit, the better. Research suggests that smokers who quit at 35 years old will gain six to eight additional years in life when compared to people who continue to smoke. Even people who quit at age 65 can gain another two to three years, according to the research. Quitting can be hard, but there are free resources available that can help.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Medical emergency sparks panic, fear of shooter at 'Hamilton' show in San Francisco

KGO(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A medical emergency sparked panic and fears of an active shooter situation at a performance of "Hamilton" in San Francisco Friday night.

The incident happened at the SHN Orpheum Theatre when a woman suffered a medical emergency at about 10 p.m. San Francisco police said the woman collapsed at the same time as a scene on stage involving gunfire and audience members apparently though the woman might have been shot.

Theatergoers fled in a panic and the performance came to an abrupt conclusion.

In the resulting mayhem caused by the woman's medical emergency, three people suffered injuries. One person suffered a broken leg, according to the San Francisco Fire Department, while two other people suffered "moderate" injuries.

The woman who suffered the initial medical emergency is in critical condition.

"The original patient who required an AED [automated external defibrillator] had a return of pulses with CPR and paramedic and remains in critical condition," the fire department tweeted.

There was no shooter and no shots were fired.

"Hamilton had just died and what I saw, we were in the back of the orchestra, was someone stand up and get carried out. That's when someone screamed, 'Lights, lights,'" eyewitness Leo McCaffrey told San Francisco ABC station KGO.

The musical was almost over and was not continued, but attendees were allowed to go back in and get their belongings.

In a video posted by an attendee outside even the musical's performers can be seen going back in the theater to cheers.

The smash-hit "Hamilton" was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and first debuted on Broadway in 2015. It tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, the country's first secretary of the treasury, his relationships with the other Founding Fathers and his feud with Vice President Aaron Burr. It won 11 Tony Awards in 2016, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Actor and Best Actress. It was nominated for five other awards.

The musical is being put on in San Francisco through Sept. 8. Its first showing was just on Feb. 12.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Family of a 28-year-old Florida woman sues Lime scooter over crash that left her in 'vegetative state' 

Family of Ashanti Jordan(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) --  When Tracy Jordan sees people darting around Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on one of the thousands of motorized rental scooters available in the city, she says she sometimes has to cover her eyes as her heart sinks and her anger rises.

In December, Jordan's 28-year-old daughter, Ashanti, was riding a two-wheeled Lime e-scooter home when she was broadsided by a car at an intersection in west Fort Lauderdale. Her daughter, she said, has been fighting for her life and in a coma ever since.

"It's so traumatizing," Tracy Jordan said during a news conference this week. "Every time I see someone on a scooter, it's like, they don't understand the danger behind these scooters."

On Thursday, Jordan filed a lawsuit against Lime, blaming the scooter company for the crash that has, according to the court document, left her once vibrant daughter in a "persistent vegetative state."

 The case is the latest in a string of serious injury accidents linked to e-scooters in cities across the country where the scooter craze has taken hold.

Dark side of scooter craze

Emergency rooms across the nation are being inundated with patients injured while riding the scooters, which have braking and accelerator systems and can go 15 to 35 mph.

A study published in January in JAMA Network Open analyzed 249 people treated for scooter injuries in emergency rooms in Los Angeles County between Sept. 1, 2017, and Aug. 31, 2018, and found that 40 percent suffered head injuries and 32 percent sustained fractures.

In September, a 24-year-old man in Dallas was killed while riding a Lime scooter home from work, according to police. An autopsy ruled that Jacoby Stoneking's death was an accident caused when he fell off a Lime scooter and hit his head. He was not wearing a helmet at the time and the scooter he was riding was found broken in half, police said.

Also in September, a 20-year-old man riding a Lime scooter was killed when he was struck by an SUV and dragged 20 feet in Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle, according to police.

Ashanti Jordan, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a devastating brain injury around 2:15 p.m. on Dec. 28 while riding a Lime scooter home from her job as a security guard at Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, where she is now a patient in the intensive care unit.

Todd Falzone, the Jordan family lawyer, blamed Lime's operating instructions for Ashanti Jordan being hit by a car while riding the scooter on the street, as instructed by the Lime smartphone app and by stickers on the scooter she was operating.

In November, the city of Fort Lauderdale passed an ordinance prohibiting riders from operating the dockless rental scooters on the street and requiring that they be used on the sidewalk.

"Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 31, there have been 40 incidents involving scooters" in Fort Lauderdale alone, ABC affiliate WPLG-TV in Miami reported, citing Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue. "A total of 31 of them required someone [to] be transported to the hospital, and four of those were level-1 traumas."

Since Fort Lauderdale allowed e-scooter rentals into the city on Nov. 1, there have been more than 320,000 rides through January, adding up to more than 460,000 miles traveled, according to the city.

Falzone said a big part of the dangers the scooters impose in Fort Lauderdale stems from the instructions given by Lime on where to operate them.

"Well, Lime's app as of that time and really as of today, tells you the opposite" of the new Fort Lauderdale ordinance, Falzone said. "It tells you literally do not operate this on the sidewalk. Not only does the app tell you that three times, but the scooter itself has a sticker on it that says, 'Do not operate on the sidewalk.'

"So you have a scooter company that's supposed to be knowledgeable on the law ... instructing the user to violate the law without telling them they are violating the law," Falzone told ABC News. "They are operating in violation of the law down here and that's got to stop."

He said Ashanti Jordan was injured for obeying Lime's instructions.

"She had left work a few minutes before and she was only about a mile-and-a-half from where she works ... on a side street in sort of a mixed residential business neighborhood and she got T-boned by this car," Falzone said.

'Persistent vegetative state'

The accident has left Jordan with "catastrophic and permanent injuries, including a severe brain injury which led to a coma and has left her in a persistent vegetative state," according to the lawsuit the Jordan family filed in Broward County Circuit Court.

 In a statement to ABC News, Lime officials said, "The safety of our riders and the community is our highest priority, and we're committed to making our streets safer by working with local governments to support safe infrastructure for scooters and bikes. Our thoughts remain with Ms. Jordan and her family."

Lime did not comment on its operations in Fort Lauderdale.

The company -- like its competitors Bird, Jump and Lyft -- has expanded rapidly in the last couple of years. It now operates in over 100 cities around the world.

Meanwhile, Tracy Jordan said she is praying for her daughter, who has undergone brain surgery and had part of her skull removed to relieve swelling on her brain, to survive. She also hopes her lawsuit prompts Lime to take steps to prevent others from ending up like her daughter.

"I just want everybody in the community to understand this is dangerous and this is wrong," Tracy Jordan said. "These things can ultimately end your life."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Courteney Cox got candid about her decision to dissolve all her fillers

Michael Tran/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) --  Actress Courteney Cox recently opened up about getting facial fillers in the past and why she chose to stop.

The 54-year-old "Friends" star told PEOPLE that she wasn't confident in her appearance as she got older.

"I would say it's a common thing you go through as you age, especially in Hollywood," she told the outlet. "You have to accept getting older, and that's something that I had a hard time doing."

"[I tried] to keep up with time in a way that was anything other than maintenance," she continued. Nearly two years ago, she hit a point where she decided it was time to stop, she told the publication.

"I didn’t realize it until one day I kind of stepped back and went, 'Oh s----. I don’t look like myself,'" she shared.

Since dissolving the fillers, Cox has accepted aging and found confidence in her skin.

"So now I just embrace who I am and getting older with what God gave me, not what I was trying to change," she said.

"I kind of own everything. And the things that I am not as comfortable with myself, they're things that I continue to work on to grow and change," she continued. "I am at a stage of my life where it’s very easy to be comfortable with who I am and who I’ve become and who I strive to be."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Ready to KonMari in 2019? Marie Kondo shares her six rules of tidying

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If you have not yet heard of Marie Kondo, you may be living under a pile of clutter.

The home organization guru who sparked a phenomenon with her KonMari method of tidying based on joy is back in the spotlight again.

Kondo is the star of a new Netflix series in which she travels across the U.S. to teach American families the Japanese art of decluttering.

“My mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying,” Kondo says in the opening of her show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Joy is at the heart of Kondo’s organizing process. The first thing she says to ask yourself when cleaning and getting rid of items is, “Does the item spark joy?”

If the answer is no, then it should be donated or given to a friend, according to Kondo, the author of the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Being able to determine what items spark joy is a skill that has to be developed, Kondo told ABC News' Good Morning America.

If you have an item, such as a piece of clothing, that doesn't spark joy but is well used, you can change the way you think about the item, according to Kondo. Those items can stay.

"When you wear it, if it gives you, you know, at the most important moment, it really helps you to have this or wear this then hold onto it and say, 'Thank you for helping me in those moments,'" Kondo said.

Closets for most people include a section of clothes they used to fit into at a different size. When it comes to those items, Kondo has one question to ask.

"The determination point is by looking at it, does it make you want to go exercise so you can fit into it? Or does it make you dread that you have to exercise because you want to fit into it?" Kondo explained.

Kondo's practice also includes thanking the clothes you decide to part with before putting them in the donation pile.

"It's difficult for us to let go of things because of, for one, the memories associated to it, but also, a lot of people kind of associate their identity with their possession," she said. "So that makes it much more difficult for people to throw things away."

Kondo suggests tackling clutter by category, not location. For example, instead of taking on an entire bedroom, first start with clothes, then books, then paper, then miscellaneous items and then sentimental items. De-cluttering by category is one of Kondo's six rules of tidying. The six rules are, in order:

1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

3. Finish discarding first.

4. Tidy by category, not by location.

5. Follow the right order (clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous items, sentimental items).

6. Ask yourself, "Does it spark joy?"

Viewers of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo can see that Kondo's method is truly life-changing for the families she visits.

"There's nothing ... happier than hearing them, that their life changed," Kondo told GMA.

Viewers have also been quick to take to social media to show off their tidying, including Kondo's most famous organizing trick, the KonMari folding method.

Kondo recommends folding clothes in halfs or thirds so you end up with a rectangle that stands up by itself. The clothes can then be placed in drawers or on shelves upright so you can easily see what you have.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Dr. Ruth says millennials' intimacy issues aren't about sex

Nicolette Cain/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Sex therapist Dr. Ruth said she is concerned about millennials’ issues with intimacy and loneliness.

Ruth Westheimer, better known as legendary sex therapist Dr. Ruth, voiced her concerns about the younger generation’s issues with intimacy on Valentine’s Day at The View.

Ruth said she is well aware that millennials might not know who she is, but she knows them, and they’re the reason why she updated her book Sex for Dummies for the 21 century.

In a digitally-driven world, Ruth makes it clear that she understands the level of access people have to address their sexual concerns, so this book isn’t filled with instructions on the birds and the bees. Publishers approached Dr. Ruth because they thought the younger generation needed to hear from her.

“They’ve heard people like me. I’m not the only one,” she said about people in her field giving advice.

“I can talk about orgasm, I can talk about erection -- I’m a sex therapist,” Ruth continued.

She grabbed the hand of co-host Abby Huntsman, who’s pregnant with twins, and assured her that she can help her discover what kind of sex is best when you’re very pregnant.

Ruth said that she's concerned that a lack of intimacy among millennials is a worrying development in the age of social media.

“I’m very concerned about loneliness in the millennials,” Ruth said. “And I’m very concerned about the art of conversation ... getting lost.”

Ruth said she hopes to help guide younger generations by specifically addressing these issues in her book.

The world-renowned psycho-sexual therapist doesn’t have a PhD, or even a high school degree. She’s a German-born Jewish refugee who refers to herself as a Holocaust orphan. Her parents sent her to Switzerland before World War II.

When the war ended, she learned that both of her parents had died in the Holocaust. Making the best of her situation, Ruth sneaked away with books provided by her first boyfriend, to learn on her own.

Ruth, now 90, holds multiple honorary doctorates and helps people learn how to be happy with their intimate relationships.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Mom hopes to spark change with video of daughter’s walker getting stuck in sand at playground

Courtesy Danielle Zukosi(NEW YORK) -- A Florida mother is hoping a video showing her 5-year-old getting trapped in the sand will motivate her county to build more accessible playgrounds for kids with special needs.

Danielle Zukosi attended a birthday party at Anderson Snow Park in Hernando County, Florida, on Feb. 10. The mother of three was accompanied by all of her children. Her twins, Iris and Harmony, both adopted, have cerebral palsy. Harmony also has autism.

Iris also has a sub-condition called hemiparesis, which effects her muscle movements. As a result, she has to use a walker to get around, Zukosi told ABC News' Good Morning America.

At the party, Zukosi said she happened to be recording a video of the children for her husband, who was at work at the time. When the kids were approaching the swings, the video shows Iris stopping in her tracks. Zukosi said she stopped because her walker got trapped in the sand where the playground equipment was set.

Zukosi posted the footage on her Facebook page where it garnered over 3,000 views and was later picked up by her local news station.

"It was extremely sad," Zukosi said. "She is a very happy child. It got to me, but sometimes she will stop doing something and needs a little bit of encouragement. [I'll say], 'Let's give it a try,' before I make that jump and whisk her away. But once I had seen the look on her face, that's when I cut the video off."

Zukosi said she carried Iris to the swing and later emailed Hernando County's parks and recreation department to let them know that Anderson Snow Park is not fully accessible to all children.

Zukosi said a park employee referred her to another park that uses mulch at its playground area, but Iris still has trouble navigating her walker in this material. She scoots in the mulch to get around.

The employee was very responsive and told Zukosi that he'd look into the budget to replace the playground surfaces, Zukosi said.

"My ultimate goal is to have an accessible playground for all children to use," Zukosi explained. "Whether they're in a wheelchair or walker, there should be something for each child to do."

Zukosi even created a petition to ask the county to make the park more accessible.

A representative from the Hernando County Government released the following statement to GMA regarding Zukosi's mission:

"All of our county parks with playground equipment, except Anderson Snow, have the certified playground mulch that meets ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirements. Our Parks and Recreation Department has planned for it to be installed at Anderson Snow this year and has now moved it up on the priority list. We expect it to be in within a month or so."

Zukosi said she is meeting with Hernando County Parks and Recreation later this month to discuss an alternative to replacing sand with ADA mulch. The mulch will technically make the park compliant, but Zukosi said Iris cannot push her walker through it.

"I think it's great to spread awareness because because a lot of people don't understand our daily struggles," Zukosi said. "It's not just at the park where she should have freedom and independence."

She went on, "This isn't just about Iris. It's about other children too. [There's a reason] we don't go to the parks because we know what's there for us. There's nothing."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Politics are playing a bigger role in millennial dating preferences

grinvalds/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Over the past several years, millennials have increasingly indicated on their dating app profiles that politics is make-or-break in relationships, said Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer for the dating app OKCupid, on ABC News' "The Briefing Room."

Hobley said that some people will filter their potential matches by political party, while others are only interested in people who vote in elections.

Fifty-six percent of millennial men and 73 percent of millennial women would prefer to date someone who votes for the same party as they do, according to OkCupid data.

“That’s really really powerful, again thinking about the previous generation, where the advice or the golden rule was don’t talk politics, wait to talk politics until you’re pretty far down the path. Millennials, more than any other demographic, are talking politics before they even match,” Hobley said.

OkCupid has seen this shift more rapidly since the 2016 presidential election. Hobley said she has noticed millennial women taking strong stances on the president and including photos of themselves at the Women’s March in their profiles.

“The stakes feel very high and what we've noticed [is], if you're a millennial, if you're in your 20s, you're going to use dating to show how you feel and to signal what matters to you,” Hobley said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Young cancer survivor fears anti-vax parents are putting sick kids at risk

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger’s decision to act against his anti-vaccine mother's wishes recently thrust his family into a fiery national debate over the anti-vax movement. But one California family has been fighting against the movement for years and it has successfully lobbied to have the state laws changed.

“We wanted to help because we knew it would have an impact on the community if more people would get vaccinated,” Carl Krawitt, the father of the family that lobbied for the new legislation, told "Nightline."

Followers of this small but loud anti-vax movement believe vaccines can have serious health risks and they refute the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and good for public health. In Lindenberger’s case, his mother feared he would have a bad reaction to them but ultimately respected his decision to be vaccinated.

“I had grown up hearing that, you know, I wasn't vaccinated because it's better for me and [she] told me that vaccines are bad," Lindenberger told "Good Morning America." "Once I began to look at the evidence and look into what the scientific community at large supported, you know, that's when I started to see that my situation was a little more unique than I had come to believe.”

“My decision was not only the best decision for myself but it was a decision to protect myself and other people from a preventable disease,” he said.

Popularized by the likes of Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro, the movement has become more mainstream than ever and public health experts say it’s having an impact.

“False information, myth and misconception always exist in medicine...and we all fear what we don’t know and we don’t understand," said ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "But the reality is in medicine and science we have to make clinical decisions and policy decisions that affect public health based on fact and data and not fear and emotion."

“What we’ve seen recently, not just in the United States but in Europe and other parts of the world, is a resurgence in infectious diseases that were heretofore eradicated,” she added.

Currently, 18 states allow parents to forgo vaccinating their kids based on personal belief, but now, more lawmakers are considering bills that would prohibit non-medical exemptions from vaccines.

Just last month, Washington State declared a state of emergency after a measles outbreak in Clark County, where 7.9 percent of children had gotten exemptions from vaccines for entry to kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Washington Post.

Proponents of the mandatory vaccinations point to California, where state lawmakers removed personal belief vaccine exemptions after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people in 2015.

The Krawitt family was one of the driving forces behind the new legislation in California.

When their son, Rhett, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, his immune system was unable to handle vaccines, including one that prevents measles.

“The chemotherapy and all of the toxins that they put in his body to get him well, basically wiped out his immune system,” said Rhett’s father Carl Krawitt. “This is known in the medical community as a medical exception.

It’s a very legitimate medical exemption,” he added. “If the immune system is not strong enough for a vaccine then you can’t get them, they can be harmful.”

During the 2015 outbreak in their home state, the Krawitts were shocked to learn that roughly 7 percent of the kids at their local elementary school were not vaccinated because parents had cited the personal belief exemption.

It meant that sending their son to school would put his life at risk.

“That frankly is the risk we faced each and every day that our son might get sick and he might die,” Krawitt said.

“People who have personal belief exemptions — they believe they are bad and so they choose not to vaccinate their children,” he continued. “People value that individual choice so much that they forget about the impact on the lives of others.”

Shortly after the 2015 measles outbreak ended, the Krawitts went to Sacramento on a mission to lobby for the passage of a bill that would remove the personal belief exemption with the hope that others wouldn’t experience the same fear that they experienced.

Their mission was a success. The new law passed in California, with bipartisan support, eliminating exemptions due to personal beliefs.

“It was a good feeling that I had and I was excited and happy,” Rhett Krawitt said.

This week, Rhett, now 11 and fully vaccinated, celebrates five years of being cancer-free and he has a personal message for other parents.

“I think that you should get your kids vaccinated not only for your kids' sake," he said, "but everybody’s sake.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


This year's flu vaccine is 47% effective, CDC says

Nastco/iStock(ATLANTA) -- The flu vaccine is more effective this year than the past two years, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported Thursday that the flu vaccine is proving 47 percent effective in preventing the strains of the flu that are most prevalent this year.

That number marks a distinct uptick from the past two flu seasons when it was 40 percent effective each year.

"Overall, 47 percent tells us that the vaccine is working. It's encouraging. It's reassuring that the vaccine is doing its job," said Dr. Joshua Doyle, an epidemic intelligence service officer in the CDC's Flu Division.

While the number may appear low to some, Doyle said it's well within the standard range for how effective a vaccine is on any given year. He said that a "typical range" of effectiveness for the flu vaccine is between 40 and 60 percent.

According to CDC data, there has only been one season in the last 14 years -- the 2010-2011 season -- where the vaccine was 60 percent effective.

Doyle said that it's a common misconception that the vaccine effectiveness level suggests that someone has a close to 50-50 chance of getting the flu whether or not they get vaccinated. Instead, he stressed that "people who are vaccinated get the flu 47 percent less than people who are not vaccinated."

He said the 2017-2018 flu season was "so severe," with 79,000 deaths.

The CDC estimates there have been between 10,000 and 16,000 related deaths so far during this flu season, but it's hard to predict how long the season will run.

"Seasons differs year to year. We had a little bit of a later start this year," Doyle said, noting that there has been "increasing activity in the last few weeks."

He added, "We would encourage people to get vaccinated."

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