NEW YORK (PIX11) — Flu cases spread across New York earlier than usual this year, health officials warned Thursday. 

Though flu season usually runs from October through May, influenza was already considered “widespread” across the state as of Wednesday, according to the New York Department of Health. There’s been an “early and aggressive” spread of flu, Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. 

“I urge all New Yorkers to protect themselves and their family and friends by getting a flu vaccine as soon as possible,” she said.

Bassett said the flu shot is the best protection against serious infection. Experts advise getting it as soon as possible. People can also get COVID booster shots at the same time.

There have been 596 laboratory-confirmed cases for the week ending Oct. 1, according to the state. By Oct. 9 of 2021, only 150 cases had been confirmed. 

Flu cases have been reported in 44 of New York’s 62 counties as of Oct. 3, officials said. The New York City area, the Capital District and Central New York are reporting the highest number of cases.