Perhaps you've been meaning to get a shot to protect you against influenza for weeks now, but just haven't had the time. Maybe you've been telling your spouse you'll get around to it soon.
Anyway, what's the hurry? The flu season is still weeks away, right?
Wrong. Public health officials say flu usually does not become widespread until January and February. This year it may peak this month, however.
If your resistance to disease is relatively low, perhaps because of illness and/or age, your very life may be at risk from the flu. The only reason it is not a major problem in the United States is widespread use of vaccines. Worldwide, the flu causes hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.
Even in the United States, some years can claim substantial numbers of victims. In 1993, 4,021 Americans were killed by the flu.
Even if you think you can fight off a bout with the flu, consider the risk of infecting those around you, especially children. During the 2009-10 flu season, 282 children died from the disease.
Getting a flu shot is relatively painless and takes just a few minutes. Shots are offered at many health care centers, including some drug stores. The cost is minimal and some insurance plans cover it entirely.
So if you've been planning to get a flu shot, get around to it within the next few days. If you haven't planned on getting a vaccination, please reconsider, perhaps after remembering how miserable you were during your last bout with the flu.