In the first week of October, North Idaho already experienced its first death caused by influenza.
Last flu season, the first such death reported in North Idaho was Jan. 12. By that measuring stick, weíre more than three months ahead of schedule, meaning we could be in for an exceptionally long flu season.
To make matters worse, Press meteorologist Randy Mann and climatologist Cliff Harris are leaning ever closer to the notion that ours will be an above-average winter for cold and snow. Sorry, but thereís no do-over for summer, nor is there a way to simply fast-forward to next May. Our long, dark, cold and wet season rolls inexorably this way.
So what can you do about it? Mitigate the damage, thatís what.
And by that we mean, get a flu shot.
Yes, itís an annual refrain made necessary not just because sometimes people need a reminder, but because there are those who believe vaccinations do more harm than good. And theyíre striking up the band of fear and misinformation now, trying to convince you that getting a flu shot is unnecessary at best and damaging at worst.
Donít buy it. While a flu shot doesnít carry a 100 percent guarantee that you wonít get sick this flu season, it dramatically increases your odds of staying healthy. And you know, itís not all about you. If you donít get the flu, then you wonít be infecting others. Thatís a point seemingly lost on the anti-innoculators, who are perhaps unwittingly marching to the drumbeat of an epidemic.
Flu shots are often covered by health insurance and even when theyíre not, theyíre inexpensive, especially when compared to lost productivity and generally feeling miserable for days.
You can hardly drive four blocks without seeing a sign for flu vaccinations. Grocery stores, pharmacies, doctorsí offices and Panhandle Health District are all well-equipped to quickly send you on your way with a suit of armor to ward off the sword strokes of influenza.
Do it for yourself, for your family, for your co-workers, for the strangers with whom you come into random contact.
And remember that even though itís flu time, thereís also a season of joy headed your way.