The holidays are about celebrating the season and spending time with family and friends. Because influenza and other viruses are easily spread where groups of people gather together, it is important to do your part to keep everyone around you healthy.
"We want to protect our family, friends and community from illness during this special time of year and throughout the winter months when the risk for influenza is typically the greatest," said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "The influenza vaccine is still proven to be the best protection we have against the flu and I urge everyone six months and older to get a flu shot now."
Tennessee typically sees the highest number of seasonal flu cases in January and February each year. Flu vaccine is available in many locations across the state, including county health departments, medical clinics and pharmacies.
"Every flu season is difficult to predict and we cannot yet know which type of flu virus will be dominant in the US," said Kelly Moore, MD, director of the Tennessee Immunization Program. "We do know the flu shot is very safe and is the best protection we have against influenza."
It's also extremely important for pregnant women to be vaccinated to protect their unborn children. It takes about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine before your body is fully protected from the flu.
After getting the flu vaccine, it's still important to practice good health habits to protect yourself from the flu and other viruses, and to prevent spreading them to others if you do get sick.
Good health habits include:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for about 20 seconds
• Always cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue
• Stay home from work, school or other gatherings when sick to help prevent the spread of flu or other illnesses
For more information about influenza, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.