OK, everyone, it’s officially flu season – we are seeing influenza in emergency departments and hopefully all doctors are in full swing of giving flu vaccinations to any and all who want them. My office in particular is giving both injectable (“killed”) flu vaccine and the nasal spray (“live”) flu vaccine. Between the 12 of us docs there’s a pretty even split between what we all prefer, although patients/parents make the ultimate choice if either one is appropriate for the patient’s age and medical condition. We continue to get the question “Well, I didn’t give [my child] the vaccine last year and he/she was fine – why should we give it this year?” The simple answer is, whether or not one will get the flu in a particular season, and how severe a case one might get, is impossible to predict. But pretty much all public health authorities agree that gambling on staying healthy without vaccination is a bad bet. Last year we had one of the worst flu seasons on record, with around 80,000 deaths in the U.S., mostly among those who were not vaccinated. The downside to getting a vaccine (the inconvenience of showing up and the pain IF you get the shot and not the nasal spray) pales in comparison to the downside of getting a bad case of the flu. Period.