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Flu season is not a gamble not worth taking

‘Tis the season ... or it’s getting close.

October rolls in Monday, bringing with it a plethora of fall events, from concerts to community festivals to arts and crafts shows to harvest festivals. This is when the seasons turn, and every year seem to turn more quickly — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, flu ...

Yes, you read that right — flu season. It’s nothing to celebrate, but it’s on its way, just as surely as trick-or-treaters, turkey dinner and St. Nick.

Last year’s flu season was the kind that can lull a person into a sense of false security. Overall, it was one of the mildest we’ve experienced in a number of years. The problem is that is no reliable predictor for this coming flu season, which is rapidly approaching. Sure, it could be mild again. But it also could be a vicious one.

Why take the chance?

If you got a flu vaccine last year, it won’t necessarily keep you from getting the bug this season. Health officials — who have to gaze through a crystal ball months ahead to concoct the recipe for certain strains that is included in each year’s vaccination — say there are two new strains of flu working their way around the globe. Government officials said Thursday that the new vaccine looks like it is working well against those strains, including one from a strain that has historically been a harsh one.

While no one likes to take injections, a little stick in the arm today can prevent a whole lot of misery down the road. And the sooner the better since it takes a couple of weeks for your body to build up the resistance to the flu bugs once you are vaccinated.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week show that more than half of U.S. children — 52 percent — were immunized, including three out of every four toddlers ages 6 months-23 months.

The adults, many of whom have to care for those toddlers, were less likely to protect themselves, with fewer than four out of 10 — 39 percent — getting the vaccine in 2011.

Two out of every three seniors got the vaccination, but that percentage continues a slow, steady drop among that age group. We’d guess that some baby boomers who have entered the range never quite got over that feeling of invulnerability, the one that resulted in only 33 percent of teens getting the vaccine last year.

The Associated Press reported Friday that manufacturers expect to create 135 million doses of the vaccine, which can be administered four ways:

  • A traditional flu shot;
  • FluMist, a nasal version for healthy people 2-49, excluding pregnant women;
  • A high-dose shot for seniors 65 and older;
  • A skin-deep prick for people 18-64.

Like we said, it’s getting to the time of the year when there’s never enough time and plenty to see, do and enjoy. It’ll be a lot more fun if you’re not stuck on your back in bed with a fever and aches. And the family members who you won’t infect and the co-workers who won’t have to cover for you while you’re sick will appreciate it, too.