It's never too late to get your flu shot. Those of us who opted for flu vaccine earlier this fall are hopefully already protected, and it looks like this year's vaccine is a good match for the three types of flu already circulating.
For parents who haven't been immunized yet, I'd put getting a flu shot for yourself and all children in the family over age 6 months at the top of your "to do list." If you haven't visited your pediatrician this fall, you may not have been reminded about this. One day last week, my last patient of the day was a 10-year-old boy with classic flu symptoms: sudden onset of fever, chills, cough, scratchy throat and body aches. His mother "thought" she'd been in for his flu shot, but when I checked his chart, it was LAST fall and the time had just escaped her. This oversight is not uncommon when you have healthy children who visit their pediatrician only once a year.
For parents, even if you've already had the flu -- which can knock you down for 5 to 7 days -- get a shot once you've recovered. Believe it or not, you could actually contract one of the other strains of flu that will continue through the flu season.
Lastly, if your child gets the flu, keep the youngster home from day care or school and all outside activities. Flu is very contagious, and going to school just spreads the virus to others. This is also true for parents, who should stay home from work with the flu, as well.
And keep washing those hands! We have a long winter ahead.
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com.)