Everything you need to know — in a six-part special report

The influenza virus is highly contagious and spreads through the air via a cough, a sneeze, even an open window.

If you catch it, there are better modes of relief than a shot of whiskey (though that won’t hurt).

But the goal, of course, is to not catch it. There’s only one real way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu. And if your kids are scared of needles, it doesn’t have to require a shot.

Last year’s flu season was the longest in a decade. Predictions are fallible. But what is the CDC preparing for this season?

The flu has a ghastly history. Ever since Hippocrates coined it the “Cough of Perinthus” in 5th century BCE, and possibly even before then, it’s been plaguing civilization.

The future may be brighter: Scientists are working on a universal flu vaccine and dozens of people have received the trial shot.

But for today, the regular-variety flu vaccine cuts your risk by 40% to 60%. If every American were to receive it, rates of flu would plummet. So what are you waiting for?

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