(NEXSTAR) – The 2022 flu season is off to an early and vicious start, especially in the South, according to tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the threat of flu in Vermont so far is minimal, according to a CDC map of flu activity around the country. Likewise, the Vermont Department of Health, which through November 5 reported four cases, says the threat so far this season is small.

Seven states, plus Washington, D.C., are seeing the most flu activity, according to the map. Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia are all categorized as “very high.”

It’s not much better in Maryland and Texas, both of which are in the second-worst category Behind them are Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New Mexico.

CDC tracking shows where flu levels are highest in the country. (Map: CDC)

Hospitalization rates for influenza haven’t been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, according to the CDC. So far, there have been an estimated 1,300 flu deaths, including at least three children.

Activity has spiked over the past month. Less than three weeks ago, no states were in the “very high” categories.

All this flu transmission is also happening earlier than usual – the winter flu season usually ramps up in December or January.

Things look better up north; the Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest and New England all have states in the “minimal” category for flu activity.

The CDC map isn’t based on confirmed influenza lab tests but rather tracks where people are going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms (respiratory illness and fever, plus a cough or sore throat). Because of that, the map “may capture patient visits due to other respiratory pathogens that cause similar symptoms,” the agency explains.

Flu season is ramping up at the same time as children’s hospitals are reeling from an onslaught of young patients with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. CDC tracking shows RSV cases spiking since September.

There may be some good news: COVID-19 cases have been trending downwards and leveled off in the last three weeks, the CDC’s Dr. Jose Romero said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.