It is almost here - flu season. Now is a good time to review the facts about influenza. Influenza, also called the "flu," is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The 2013-2014 influenza (flu) season could begin as early as October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, a person may be able to infect others with the flu for 5-7 days after they have become sick and a person may be contagious as soon as one day before showing symptoms of the flu. Pneumonia and influenza are the fifth leading cause of death in older adults in the U.S. It's also good to know that Medicare provides coverage for one flu vaccine and its administration per influenza season for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries with no co-pay or deductible. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illness, antibiotic use, doctors' visits and lost time from work, as well as prevent hospitalizations and deaths.