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We spend a lot of time concerned with protecting from events so unlikely that we will read about them on the front page if they do occur. It is also necessary to prevent likely events, which explains our dogged concern with driving safety and health issues.

One issue that looms large in this season is the flu. This is because, in the United States alone, roughly 36,000 die of the flu in an average year, and roughly 200,000 will be hospitalized. This makes the flu a very real threat under the best of circumstances. This year, when vaccine will be scarce because of the unavailability of the vaccine from our major supplier’s factory in the UK, it could be an even more serious threat. Those on the priority list include:

•   All children aged 6-23 months.

•   Adults aged 65 years and older.

•   Persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions.

•   All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season.

•   Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

•   Children aged 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy.

•   Health-care workers involved in direct patient care.

•   Out-of-home caregivers with household contacts with children age of 6 months or under.

If you, or those under your care, fall into any of these categories, you, and they, should definitely get a flu shot.

And, flu shot or not, it is certainly the season to stop shaking hands; stop touching your face (especially your nose); and to frequently wash your hands throughout the day with lots of soap and friction, paying especial attention to the tips of the fingers and the cuticles. These three simple measures can cut the probability of your contacting the flu by half!

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