Last year's flu season was the longest in ten years. The CDC reports as many as 61,000 people died nationwide.

Typically, doctors in the United States base predictions on the southern hemisphere. This year, Australia had pretty heavy flu activity which means this year's flu season in America could be potentially severe.

"Certainly we are encouraging people to get vaccinated now. We have a reasonable expectation that it will probably be a busy season. It's already started and the best means of protection is to get your flu shot," said Terry Burger, Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months of age and older.

Carbon County's Area Agency on Aging is doing its part to help seniors get vaccinated.

"We've actually had flu clinics in each of our senior centers, to make it more convenient. When they go to the center, they can also get their flu shot," said Anne Horrigan, Director of Senior Center Services at the Area Agency on Aging.

Local schools are also preparing. Megan Zurn, school nurse at S.S. Palmer Elementary in Palmerton, tells us precautions are taken every year.

"We do extra wipe downs, you know not just the custodial staff but the teachers are really good about that too. They're usually stockpiled with Clorox wipes or whatever," said Zurn.

Experts say too many people don't realize the potential severity of the virus.

"I think people don't recognize it every year, we have lots of mortality in the United States as a result of the flu," said Burger.

While doctors credit vaccination as the best way to protect yourself, simple use of soap and water is also key.

"Handwashing is the number one, that is the hallmark of infection control," said Burger.

Burger adds if you do find yourself sick this flu season, "Stay home from work, stay home from daycare, stay home from church and the grocery store and any big places where there's a lot of people congregating because that's how it spreads."

If you have questions about the flu shot or want to know where you can get vaccinated, you should contact your healthcare provider.