It starts with a sneeze, a cough, and a few sniffles. It can wind up being several days of achy stuffy misery. It's the flu. Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals says more and more Louisiana residents are falling prey to the annual malady than have been reported in previous weeks.

Dr. Frank Welch, Medical Director for the state Immunization Program says four out of every 100 people who visit the doctor have the flu. That is an increase from previous reports and to be frank, it's typical for this time of the year.

What we’re seeing, more than 95%, is an A-type virus, which is pretty common. It is covered completely in the vaccine, there is really good coverage this year.

That's the good news about the bad news that Dr. Welch reported to the Louisiana Radio Network. Dr. Welch says that means that getting your flu shot now could really serve you well later in the season.

For certain members of our population taking precautions against the flu isn't just about easing the suffering, it's about protecting your life.

We have almost 500 people in Louisiana die every year from the flu, including 10s of thousands of hospital visits, hospital stays, illness, disability.

Those who are pregnant and older citizens are the most likely to suffer the worst effects of the flu. Dr. Welch says the people in the state most likely to contract the virus are those in the early to mid -20's.

That's most likely because of this fact. Younger members of our society are more social and in frequent contact with others. If you have a student in school or college Dr. Welch suggests strongly that you consider having your children vaccinated against the flu.