Bad news for winter flu season -- the CDC says the flu is breaking out early and strong this year. CDC chief Julie Gerberding says influenza is sweeping across several states. Flu season usually doesn`t peak until December, January or February. Arkansas is seeing localized outbreaks. Making matters worse, this year`s flu vaccine does NOT exactly match the strain of flu doctors of seeing in their patients. Gerberding says the strain is very close to the vaccine, so people should still be protected, but it`s cause for worry. About 36,000 Americans die of the flu each year, although recent years have been relatively mild. The vaccine is recommended for children under two, adults over 55, and people with long-term illnesses and those who work in hospitals. Gerberding says the early outbreaks do NOT necessarily mean that this year`s flu season will be a bad one. But federal health officials are pleading with people to get a vaccine now. Gerberding says "we could still nip this thing in the bud."