October marks the start of a new flu season, with a rise in likely cases already showing up in Louisiana and other spots, federal statistics show.

The advice from federal health officials remains clear and consistent: Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible, especially if you’re pregnant or have asthma or another underlying condition that makes you more likely to catch a bad case.

Make no mistake: Complications from the flu are scary, says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., who is part of a committee that advises federal health officials on immunization practices.

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