Flu season is underway and medical professionals say it's bad this year. Outbreaks are popping up all over, with kids staying home from school and adults calling in sick to work. Even though the flu's already here, it's not too late to get a flu shot. And healthcare providers say it's your best defense.

Infection Prevention Specialist Jessica DeGrasse from St. Joseph's Hospital says a flu shot won't prevent your getting sick. But it will greatly lessen the symptoms. So....you may only lose two days of work instead of a week. A couple of days sick in bed instead of a whole week of misery. Sounds worth it to me!

Getting a flu shot these days is easy. Most commercial pharmacies offer them, including Walgreen's, Rite Aid, and Hannaford pharmacies. No appointment necessary. Just walk up to the pharmacy and let the pharmacy tech know that you want a flu shot. Seniors can bring their Medicare Part B and D cards to help with the cost. Of course, you can also get a flu shot from your primary care physician.

There are some things you can do to help prevent the spread of the flu. Wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into your sleeve instead of your hand. Stay away from people you know are sick and if you're sick, stay home. If you're feeling symptomatic, don't visit people in the hospital.

Your flu virus could be very dangerous to inpatients with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

Bottom line, the flu is a virus and it's highly contagious. You can do everything right, and you still may get sick. Your BEST defense is a flu shot. Get yours today! For more information on the flu check out this great website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.