Fighting the flu is almost easier than fighting the reasons why people don't want to get the shot.
In Alaska, doctors say some feel they are “too healthy” to get an annual flu shot. Other patients say the side effects of the vaccine, or simply the cost of getting immunized, scare them away.
"Every year you get hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone who are hospitalized as a result of influenza infection,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state’s chief epidemiologist. “You don't get that with the common cold."
Statewide there have been close to two hundred reported cases of H1N1 influenza this year. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more young and middle aged adults getting respiratory infections because of the flu, doctors are urging everyone to get their yearly vaccine.
"Many of these people are getting hospitalized” McLaughlin said. “Some of them require intensive care unit admissions, and some of them have died."
All scenarios pediatricians want to avoid when it comes to children and the flu.
"We've been definitely diagnosing cases of the flu here in the clinic, and it is among patients who have not had the vaccine," said Dr. Jeanette Legenza, who has worked for the Children's Clinic for nine years.
"They tend to get sicker when they get the flu. They also tend to be the ones who can spread it around the community the best," she said.
"If you immunize the children, hopefully you can protect a lot more adults as well."
The decision revolves around getting vaccines that could make the difference between stopping the flu before it stops you.
"I think people do forget that the flu does still kill people every year," Legenza said.
There have not been any reported deaths from the flu in Alaska, according to state records, but that doesn't mean there have never been any. McLaughlin said doctors and hospitals are only required to report deaths among children.
Starting December 29, state health officials will start tracking adults who die from the flu. More information on vaccines is available form the state’s epidemiology page on influenza.