The creepy-crud is going around.  There are four or five people at our offices who have it, including me.  I think my wife gave it to me, which seems totally impossible because she hasn't come near me in years. (Just kidding, honey--smiley-face, wink-wink). It's never knocked me down, though, cuz I've never run a fever.  Just clogged sinuses and a phlegmy cough. (Okay, that's gross. Sorry.)

So, it's not the flu that everybody's getting.  But its coming.  Flu season just started and could continue through May of next year.  I know because I see signs in front of Walgreen's, CVS, and Rite-Aid saying, "Don't forget to get your flu shot!" or "Flu shots available here!"  And the signs always have exclamation points like we're supposed to be excited about getting a sharp needle stuck in our arms and injected with a serum that may or may not work.

So, how effective will this year's vaccine be?  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that depends, in large part, upon the "match between the vaccine virus used to produce the vaccine and the circulating viruses that season."  Since it's impossible to predict which viruses will be active this season, or if there will be new ones, it's impossible to tell how effective the vaccine will ultimately be.  The CDC says that recent studies have shown that a flu vaccination can reduce the risk of catching the bug by 40% to 60%.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting my vaccination.  Cuz, if you've ever come down with the flu, you don't ever want it again.  The two times I've had it, I felt like I'd been run over by a truck--and we're not talking an F-150.  We're talking a Peterbilt pulling a full load of cattle.  (I probably smelled like that, too.)

All kidding aside, influenza is a serious illness.  Because it's not a "reportable disease", it's difficult to determine how many people in the U.S. contract the flu every year.  According to the Frequently Asked Questions page of their web site, CDC estimates that "flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010."

Doctors in Shreveport/Bossier are predicting that this will be an early flu season, so, please, get vaccinated as soon as possible.  You only have to do it once each flu season.  This season the influenza A(H1N1) component in the vaccine has been updated to better match circulating viruses.  And if you're worried that you might catch the flu from the vaccine, that's an old wives' tale. It's one little stick, and maybe a little soreness in your arm for a couple of days.  Sure beats the alternative because take it from those of us who have come down with a bad case of the flu--it's some bad juju.