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Every year, influenza kills thousands in the U.S. — about 2 for every 100,000 people. Thousands more end up in the hospital.

And some years are worse than others. Much worse.

The sad thing is that many of those deaths could be prevented by getting the flu vaccine.

But many don't. And any others won't.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of Americans age 18 to 64 get the annual flu shot.

About 50 percent of those under 17 are immunized. And nearly 70 percent of those 65 and older.

That shows how true it is that with age comes wisdom.

Some folks are just unconcerned. Nothing much will convince them.

Others, though, are misinformed. They think the vaccine causes the flu. It doesn't.

Or they are just against vaccinations in any case. That view is based on nothing but bad information — often passed online — masquerading as science.

The flu vaccine is safe, in most cases even for those with allergies to certain ingredients with physician monitoring.

If you look at today's front page, there's a story about flu vaccinations will be given September 25 at the Four States Fairgrounds. Even if you don't have health insurance or can't afford the flu shot, you can get one free.

So there's really no excuse. Protect your loved ones. And protect yourself.