Mary Duck Robertshaw, MD, UC Health primary care physician and assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati (UC), recommends a flu shot for most people to protect against influenza—a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages—and a booster vaccine for adults to protect against pertussis or whooping cough.
Pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing, can be fatal for infants, explains Robertshaw, who suggests that expectant mothers and caregivers of newborns receive the pertussis booster to protect infants from the illness.
“Flu shots are still available and it’s recommended for everyone, although the young and old are at highest risk,” says Robertshaw. “Anyone with lung disease such as asthma, heart disease, or weakened immune systems is also at highest risk for influenza.”
“When infants get pertussis it can be deadly,” explains Robertshaw. “It’s recommended that grandparents or other caregivers get the booster vaccine because they are taking care of babies and can pass on the illness. Overall, remember that the recommended vaccines keep you safe, but also keep those around you safe. Some people are too young or have complicated medical conditions that make them ineligible to get fully vaccinated.”
Robertshaw also offers the following tips to protect against cold, flu, pertussis and other seasonal woes:
• Wash your hands, especially before mealtimes or if you are sick; use soap and water when available and an alcohol-based rub otherwise.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since openings in the mucous membrane allow germs into the body.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick to keep people who are around you from becoming ill.
• Keep children home from school or day care if they are sick; children should stay home 24 hours after a fever has subsided. It doesn’t count if you have used Tylenol to bring down the fever, which must ease on its own.
• Make sure you get plenty of sleep, stay active physically and stay hydrated.
• Use good hygiene at work and clean off phones, computers and doorknobs using alcohol rubs or disinfecting wipes.
• Make sure you get fresh air by spending even a few minutes outdoors during the winter months when weather conditions allow. Sunshine will help against seasonal affective disorder.
Patients interested in scheduling appointments with Robertshaw should call 513-475-7370.