This winter reminds me a lot of the H1N1 pandemic a few years ago, and some health officials believe this flu season could rival that one.  With at least 8 flu-related deaths in the Northland already this year, clinics are getting very busy as people rush to get the flu vaccine.

The Northland's NewsCenter is reporting that seven of those deaths in Duluth have been at Essentia Health, where a flu shot clinic Friday brought out more than 300 people to get vaccinated.

So many people came to the first day of Essentia's flu vaccine clinic that they had to expand booths to the clinic's upstairs.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, so many people are being treated for flu symptoms that beds in the ICU are in short supply.

While it's true that the flu vaccination does guarantee you won't get the flu, it does lower your chances of getting it.  The American Red Cross says that getting the vaccination and washing your hands are crucial for prevention.  That doesn't mean running your hands under water for a few seconds, that means using soap and lathering your hands for awhile before rinsing with warm water.

Other things you should do is avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth and stay away from people who are sick.  Also, wash things you carry that get handled by others like your check and credit cards and if you do get sick stay home.

Do not attempt to be a trooper and head out into the public with the flu.  You never know how others will react to getting it and even if you recover fine, you'd hate to have done serious damage to someone's health because you wouldn't stay home.

Be healthy and take care of yourself!