Staying healthy while traveling this holiday season

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this flu season is hitting earlier than any in 15 years.

Officials say this flu season is hitting earlier than normal. Photo Source: MGN

As the holidays approach, many will hit the road or take to the skies to see friends and loved ones, but health officials want locals to only spread holiday cheer and not the flu this season. Officials say that starts with a flu shot.

Heather Kretzer with the Florida Department of Health in Bay County said, "It does take about two weeks for it to become effective. Everyone is getting ready for the Christmas holiday, you'll be out and around more people, so now is the time to get your flu shot and get protected for Christmas Eve and Christmas."

Health officials say getting the flu shot will also help protect even those who don't have it.

"If somebody close to you that you're sitting by, maybe didn't get the flu shot and they have the flu, and you have the flu shot, you're helping protect the other people you're going to be going to," said Kretzer.

If you're traveling by plane or in a confined space with other people, there are a few additional ways to keep the germs away.

Kretzer said, "It sounds very simple but hand washing is a really important step for people to take, this time of year or year-round to protect themselves. That means washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."

Officials also say singing your ABCs or Happy Birthday while washing your hands is long enough to kill most germs.

Vaccines are available at the Florida Department of Health in Bay County Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and they say no appointment is necessary.

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