Give Yourself the Holiday Gift of Health Before You Visit the Family

Madison, Wisconsin - As you complete last-minute shopping and prepare for holiday travel, a UW Health physician is encouraging people to give themselves an important gift for the holidays before they hit the road.


Dr. Jonathan Temte, an influenza researcher, chair of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says there is an ample supply of flu vaccine available to those who have not received their shots. 


“According to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, 1.7 million people in Wisconsin have received the influenza vaccine so far,” he said. “That’s about 100,000 fewer than last year when the flu season came on like gangbusters early, and media campaigns encouraged people to get their shots.”


Flu shots are important for travelers who may have inadvertently been exposed to viruses in public places such as airports and shopping centers. Without immunity from the flu, they can pass on illnesses to family and friends during holiday celebrations.


According to Temte, 61 percent of Wisconsin people aged 65 and older—the group most likely to get influenza due to a weakened immune system—have been vaccinated so far.  However, the percentages are lower for younger age groups:

  • Age 50-64: 32 percent
  • Age 25-49: 19 percent
  • Age 18-24: 14 percent
  • Age 5-17: 27 percent   

“I think many younger people put off getting it because of the hassle factor,” Temte said.  “It takes time out of the work day or school day.  These people also don’t know the benefits of getting the flu shot and underestimate the bad stuff that influenza can bring.”


Symptoms of influenza may include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, and constant fatigue. 


Temte said figures from the division of public health show 11 patients in Wisconsin are in hospital intensive care units with influenza, and eight are under the age of 65.  

Date Published: 12/18/2013

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