Friday, December 11, 2015

Spread Cheer, Not the Flu, Say Physicians

Many people consider the holidays a time for spreading love and cheer, not the flu. But physicians say the increase in holiday gatherings, traveling, and shopping in crowds could provide the perfect environment for spreading influenza. That’s why Texas physicians, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urge people to get their yearly flu shot before they visit their loved ones this December.

“It's time again for everyone to make a strong effort to get the flu shot. Anyone 6 months or older will benefit by being vaccinated against the most common strains for the season,” says Sherif Zaafran, MD, chair of the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Council on Health Promotion.

Texas physicians say the annual flu shot is the best way to ensure gifts — and not influenza — are what families exchange this winter. It is especially important for the elderly and those who are around infants and people with compromised immune systems to get the vaccine to protect themselves and others.

“The benefits of the flu shot far outweigh any potential minor inconvenience. All of us being vaccinated also helps protect those who can’t be vaccinated because of their age or weak immune system,” says Dr. Zaafran, a Houston anesthesiologist.

Even for people not visiting the very old or very young this season, Dr. Zaafran says a flu shot still should be on their preholiday to-do list because influenza can have dangerous consequences for anybody, including healthy people.

“For those of us who believe that the flu is not that big of a deal, let's not forget how many folks, even the young and healthy, become critically ill from this disease,” he says.

Since it takes two weeks for the vaccine to kick in fully, physicians say now is the time to get vaccinated against influenza.

“Be wise, and immunize,” says Dr. Zaafran.

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