According to the Centers for Disease Control, this year's flu vaccine is only 33% effective. They missed the main strain causing influenza this year. Not only that, the strain they missed is a nasty one. My BFFs are celebrating their new lives as newlyweds (they've been partners for 32 years) by sharing the miseries of being down with the flu). Mum, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and lands in the hospital with the common cold, is freaking out. Me? I'm taking the usual precautions and keeping my fingers crossed. I haven't had the flu in years, but when I do get it, I invariably at least get bronchitis that takes weeks to clear up, if not pneumonia. Please follow the CDC recommendations for sanitation, hand-washing, avoiding crowds as much as possible, etc., and try to stay well, folks. They are already closing schools in some areas due to high absenteeism rates. High risk groups are children, those with suppressed immune systems, those with chronic illnesses, including diabetes (oh joy), those with respiratory diseases, and the elderly. The flu is already widespread throughout much of the country with the peak expected in February.