Let’s get one thing clear right at the start: The flu is nothing to trifle with.

The flu is not a stomach bug, the flu is not a few days of feeling under the weather. No, the fluid is a serious virus that can lay healthy people low, and sometimes pose life-threatening risks to seniors, infants and those with compromised immune systems. It’s a big deal.

That’s why, with this year‘s flu season looking to begin earlier than usual, and with so much still unknown about the virus’s severity and extent, it’s so important to get your flu shot.

"One sure thing about influenza is, where and how it will spread or what kind of season we will have, it is unpredictable," Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN this week. "The more we know, the more we know you can't figure it out very well."

Flu shots capture the contradiction of preventative care. If all works as it should, getting a flu shot means that you won’t contract the flu. That means that the worst experience you’ll have this fall and winter could simply be having the flu shot. Likewise, sometimes people find preventative doctor’s office visits irritating because they’re being screened for things that they don’t have.

But that’s the point. You don’t want to have the flu. You don’t want to have these other diseases. This is why you get a flu shot, and this is why you go to the doctor.

Yes, finding time in your day to get a shot — and dealing with a possibly tender injection site for a day or two afterward — isn’t fun. But it’s considerably more fun than losing two weeks to a serious case of the flu, or being hospitalized for the same.

The vaccine might not be perfect every year. The formula regularly changes to keep up with mutations in the virus. But it gives us all a better chance for the season. Or as Jernigan said: “"This virus continues to be elusive. While we don't have a clear idea, we do know flu is going to be here and the best way to prevent it is to get a vaccine."

We will take a moment right now to address our readers who are a bit on the older side. You’re familiar with aches and pains. You’re familiar with chronic health conditions. You’re familiar with the fact that aging isn’t for the faint of heart. And for all of those reasons, you should be first in line to get the flu shot.

Protect yourself this winter. Project the people you love.

Get a flu shot.