Every fall when it’s time to get a flu shot, the NEWS staff hold a heated discussion about who’s getting a flu shot this season and why or why not. We represent a range of opinions from germophobes, to folks who are afraid of needles, to those who don’t want to catch the flu, and to those who have been affected by the shot in the past.

Being in the service industry dealing with customers every day, maybe even shaking hands with them, do you and your HVACR staff get flu shots? Does your HVACR company provide them or encourage employees to get them?

Nobody wants to catch or pass a cold on to someone else, let alone the flu, yet dealing with the public day in and out increases the chance of that happening, especially if you don’t take precautions to avoid it.

This week, Dec. 2-8, is National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “It is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond.”

While this is a week that highlights getting flu shots, according to the CDC, “Significant increases in flu activity in the U.S. in the last two weeks indicate that an early flu season is underway.” So, if you and your company’s personnel are going to get a flu shot at all this winter but haven’t yet, now is definitely the time to get vaccinated.

Besides getting vaccinated, thorough and frequent hand washing is another action that we all can do to help prevent the spread of illnesses such as the flu.

And down the road, something that may help us be even more prepared for flu season is a flu forecast. That’s right, we may be able to get the local flu forecast for a particular area, just as we get our local weather forecast.

Scientists have recently come up with a method to predict when and where flu outbreaks may strike, and it can forecast weeks ahead of time when an area’s peak flu period will be.

For more information, go to http://1.usa.gov/R87y2J and http://bit.ly/VmMXCV.