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Going Home for the Holidays? Flu Prevention is Key to Ensure Your Family is Protected

Posted on November 21, 2023
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The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and celebration. We’re all preparing to gather with our loved ones and the last thing anyone wants is to deal with getting sick. That’s where prevention can become the key to ensuring your family’s safety and well-being. 

At Families Fighting Flu, our mission is to educate families about the seriousness of influenza and the vital importance of annual vaccination. Below, we discuss the importance of getting a flu shot as the number one step to keep yourself and your family safe this season so that your holiday plans can go off without a hitch this year.

How Common is the Holiday Flu?

The holiday flu is a common term for the increased risk of flu transmission during the holiday season. As families come together, there is worry that the flu virus can follow suit, making large gatherings a potential breeding ground for the illness. 

In 2022, flu hospitalizations reached some of their highest levels in a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Crowded airports, packed public transportation, and close encounters with friends and family create the perfect environment for the flu to spread during peak transmission months. In fact, with the triple threat of Flu, COVID-19, and RSV looming this holiday season the CDC has even started adding flu and RSV surveillance at some major US airports. Getting your influenza vaccine before holiday travel can hopefully help make the 2023 flu season less eventful.

Avoiding Transmission of the Flu While Traveling

It might seem simple enough, but the first and most important step to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. Getting your annual flu shot is the single most effective measure you can take to protect yourself and your family. It not only reduces your chances of getting sick but also lowers the risk of spreading the virus to others.

While traveling, make sure to practice good hygiene, such as handwashing and using hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is over it can still be a good idea to maintain social distancing in crowded places when possible. Avoid close contact with anyone who appears to be sick at airports, bus stations, and train terminals, and if possible, try to schedule your travel during off-peak times to minimize contact with large crowds. If you have the flexibility to avoid rush hours and busy days, take advantage of it.

Most importantly, if you feel sick or experience flu symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, and fatigue, do not travel. Follow CDC guidelines and stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without using a fever-reducing medicine.

5 Reasons to Get Your Flu Shot

Influenza is one of the deadliest vaccine-preventable diseases in America, but there is hope. Getting a flu shot is the number one thing you can do to ensure your family’s safety this holiday season, and there are several reasons why.

  1. The flu shot is your shield against the flu virus. It significantly reduces the chances of getting sick, which means you can enjoy your holidays without the fear of experiencing major complications if you get sick.
  2. Protect yourself from the flu and safeguard others. Vaccination is especially important when you’re visiting high-risk family members who may be more vulnerable to the flu and other respiratory viruses, such as young children and the elderly.
  3. When a significant portion of the population is vaccinated, it creates a collective shield against the flu, known as herd immunity. This means that with more people vaccinated, the overall spread of the virus is also reduced, making it harder for the flu to reach those who can’t be vaccinated.
  4. Getting a flu shot reduces the strain on healthcare systems, especially during the holiday season when hospitals and clinics are already busy with other accidents and injuries. 
  5. Knowing that you’ve taken steps to protect your family provides peace of mind. You can fully enjoy your time with loved ones, especially older adults, free from the worry of life-threatening consequences.

When and Where to Get the Flu Vaccine

The ideal time to get a flu shot is in the early fall, but it’s never too late to protect yourself and your family. Flu shots are readily available at various locations, including local pharmacies, primary care providers, flu clinics, and even through some employers. You can find a list of vaccination sites at Vaccines.gov and check out more facts about the flu on our website.

As you prepare to go home for the holidays and gather with your loved ones, remember that the flu shot is your best defense against the flu, and it’s the number one thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe this flu season. Don’t wait— schedule your flu shot today and let the holiday season be the time of joy, warmth, and togetherness it’s meant to be.

Learn More About Families Fighting Flu

Families Fighting Flu educates about the seriousness of influenza and the importance of annual vaccination so that no one suffers serious flu complications or death. Learn more about our mission and resources here so that you can empower your family to stay healthy this holiday season.

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