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Doctors offer tips to prevent getting the flu this holiday season

OKLAHOMA CITY – This holiday weekend, you’ll probably be around a lot of people and even more food.

However, doctors warn that the contact between people at Thanksgiving or Black Friday can lead to an increase in flu cases.

“It is very easy to catch any sort of illness this time of year with all the hugs, handshakes and shared surfaces at parties or shopping malls,” said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D. “The flu can spread like wildfire, and these settings can act just like kindling.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say you should be vigilant with washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy to help give your immune system a boost. Also, experts suggest getting the flu shot.

“One misconception we always hear is, ‘Oh, but I’ll just get the flu from the flu shot.’ Simply, no, you will not get the flu from the shot. No way,” said Chakravarty.

Doctors say that the side effects may mirror the flu, but it is simply your body building up an immunity to the virus.

“The side effects people experience after a flu shot, like soreness, swelling at the injection site and low fever do not mean you have the flu. It’s simply your body doing its job and building up its defenses,” Chakravarty said. “If you get the flu, you’ll know it, because the symptoms will knock you down.”

If you get sick, look out for severe aches and pains in your muscles and joints, notable fatigue and weakness, headaches and a high fever.

“Getting the flu is an awful experience. Getting it during the holiday season is even worse,” said Chakravarty. “So if you need to be out and about running errands and meeting up with friends and family, it’s wise to protect yourself–and them–as best you can.”