Winter is coming and with winter all those nasty viruses.

Chief of among these bad boys are the influenza viruses. Influenza is no joke and kills ten of thousands in this country each year. Symptoms include generalized body aches, headache, weakness, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath and nausea vomiting.

These viruses are relatively easily transmitted through contact and air droplets from coughing.

Sure most of us might be floored for a few days but none the worse for wear. So why worry? Well, sometimes even healthy people can catch a nasty version of the bug and become very sick and even die. Even worse are those who already have a weakened immune system such as patients with cancer, HIV and very young or old individuals.

There are really no medications which can make a big difference in attacking the virus. Yes, I know that Tamiflu has been marketed as a wonder drug. Guess what? It only reduces symptoms by one day!

So what’s left? Of course good hygiene is important. Cover your mouth with your upper arm when coughing (and not your hand, so that your hand doesn’t carry the germs). If you have the flu, consider wearing a face mask and try to clean off every surface which you touch (for example, phone, door knob, refrigerator).

Most important of all is get a flu vaccine. Not only is the vaccine very safe, it is the best weapon we have for flu prevention. Pregnant women can and should be vaccinated as well. No, this is not a government plot to vaccinate and control us. No, autism does not result. In fact, you are much more likely to die driving to get the vaccine then from the vaccine itself. And without a doubt you are more likely to die (even though it is unlikely) from the flu if you don’t get the vaccine than if you do.

So get yourself into your doctor, clinic or hospital to be vaccinated!