The flu has Nebraska in the crosshairs, and we have a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet. That’s because this is a ripe time for the flu virus to spread far and wide, thanks to holiday gatherings and travel.

The vaccine isn’t foolproof, but it’s still your best bet to avoiding an infection that can put you in the hospital or even prove fatal.

“Flu is taking on a life of its own and we’re seeing surprisingly high numbers of cases for this time of year,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, state epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency is reporting an increase in doctor visits, flu-related hospitalizations and outbreaks in schools and long-term care facilities.

“If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, there is a sense of urgency, so don’t wait any longer.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older . It’s especially important for young children, adults 65 or older, pregnant women, people with chronic lung disease like asthma and COPD, diabetes, heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Vaccination can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school and flu-related hospitalizations. Flu vaccine is safe, effective and rigorously tested. The most common reaction people may experience is soreness and redness at the injection site.

McCook Daily Gazette