Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorAnd for good reason. The past two flu seasons have been weaklings. Fewer deaths, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer illnesses.

So it’s easy to say: what’s all the fuss about influenza this year?

A couple of reasons. First, flu seasons tend to come in cycles. A few bad. A few easy. The back to the few bad. And that’s where it looks like we are at.

Second, the strains out there are new and mutated, including one in the H3N2 family (a nasty one), which none of us have seen before. That means our immune systems haven’t seen them, so we don’t have much natural defense against them.

Who needs a flu shot? The CDC says … everyone. We all could benefit from an immunization, even those young, healthy and stud-like when it comes to health.

It’s not funny, but it’s amazing to see some tough guy lying on the stretcher in the ER with a bad case of flu, and telling the now not-so-tough-guy, “Sorry, drink plenty of fluids, take come Tylenol, rest, and you’ll feel better in two-three weeks. And come back if you get symptoms of pneumonia.”

Those at highest risk are children, people over 60, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions. Keep in mind, it’s not the flu itself that gets you, but it’s complications because of the stress it puts on the body: dehydration, pneumonia, miscarriage, heart attack and stroke.

BTW, remember it’s aint Vegas. It’s your life we’re talking about here and playing the odds aren’t good if you roll snake-eyes and get sick. Immunization rates of kids are only 52 percent. Adults, an even worse 39 percent.

The vaccine won’t make you sick (contrary to rumors, myths and coincidence), and if you hate needles you may be able to get vaccine through a squirt up your nostrils. That one is good for healthy people ages 2-49. The rest of us can roll up our sleeves.

And if you’re wondering, the rate for doctors is 89 percent. It could be better, but even some of us are knuckleheads. But I’m not one. I get my vaccine next week.


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