joe roberts (flu shot)

Joseph Robert receives his flu shot during the Falls and Flu Prevention Day at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, sponsored by the National Council on Aging and Sanofi Pasteur last week.

*(Via NBC News) – A new flu season may be brewing in the U.S., just as the federal experts who usually monitor the severity and scope of influenza have been idled by a government shutdown.

America’s unofficial flu trackers say they’re seeing elevated reports of flu-like illness in a few states — California, for instance — and they worry about what will happen in coming days and weeks if officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remain on furlough.

“If this flu season hits early and we don’t have the most important national voice promoting vaccination, we will see unnecessary illnesses, some of which could be severe or fatal,” said John Brownstein, a Harvard Medical School epidemiologist who runs FluNearYou, a real-time flu tracking tool.

“And if it turns out this year’s flu causes more serious illness than normal, we may have a more difficult time detecting that quickly and warning the public about the increased risk.”

Get MORE of this story at NBC News.