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5 tips for staying healthy this holiday season

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(BPT) - As the holiday season approaches, it is as important as ever to stay healthy.

With holiday parties and family gatherings, illnesses like the flu can spread easily — and you don’t want to miss out on the festivities.

As the largest provider of influenza vaccine to the U.S., Sanofi Pasteur encourages you to help protect yourself and those around you from influenza with an annual flu vaccination.

While everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception, should get an annual flu vaccination, it is especially important for adults age 65 years and older, as the flu can be particularly devastating for this population.

Combined with pneumonia, flu is one of the top ten leading causes of death in older adults in the United States.1 On average, every four minutes, an adult age 65 years and older is hospitalized due to flu or flu-related complications, and every 12 minutes, an adult in the same age group dies as a result of flu or flu-related complications.1,2

Here are five things you can do to help beat germs and promote health this holiday season.

1. Get an annual flu vaccination

While many mistakenly think of the flu as only a mild illness and often confuse it with a cold, it is a contagious respiratory illness that can be severe and life-threatening, even for healthy individuals, and it can make the holiday season unbearable.3

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting an annual flu vaccination is the single best way to help prevent the flu each season.3

2. Ask your healthcare provider about which flu vaccine is right for you

While an annual flu vaccination is vital for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception, it is equally important to talk to your healthcare provider about choosing the right flu vaccine for you.

Because the immune system weakens with age, making it harder to fight disease, flu can be especially severe for adults age 65 years and older.1

Certain vaccines are developed to address the age-related weakening of the immune system, so Sanofi Pasteur encourages everyone to talk to their healthcare provider about choosing the right flu vaccine. To learn more about the impact of influenza on adults age 65 years and older and the importance of choosing the right vaccine, visit http://www.nfid.org/flualert.

3. Spread holiday cheer, not germs

Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after preparing food.4,5

Make handwashing part of your pre-cooking and pre-meal routine for the entire family.

4. Bundle up!

While the holidays bring warmth and cheer, the weather outside may suggest otherwise. It’s important to bundle up to stay dry and warm during the cold, damp winter months.

Be sure to wear appropriate outdoor clothing, including light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves and waterproof boots.

5. Head to bed

If you do catch a cold or the flu, try to limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.6 The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone down, except to get medical care or for other necessities.6

Don’t miss out on time spent with family and friends this holiday season. By following these simple tips and getting an annual flu vaccination, you can help prevent the spread of influenza and its potentially severe complications.

1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Vital Statistics Report. Deaths: Final Data for 2014. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf. Accessed November 16, 2017.

2 CDC. Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Averted by Vaccination in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/2015-16.htm. Accessed November 16, 2017.

3 CDC. Key Facts about Influenza (Flu). http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed on November 16, 2017.

4 CDC. Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm. Accessed on November 16, 2017.

5 CDC. When & How to Wash Your Hands. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html. Accessed on November 16, 2017.

6 CDC. CDC Says “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm. Accessed on November 16, 2017.