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Health officials encourage vaccinations ahead of holidays as cases of flu and RSV rise

Marina Demidiuk
State health officials and medical professionals are urging people to get vaccinated this weekend.

It's not uncommon for cases of respiratory illness to rise in the winter months, but health officials are still encouraging vaccination to protect folks during gatherings.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, state health officials are reminding people to watch out for respiratory illnesses that tend to increase this time of the year.

Flu and RSV cases, as well as COVID-19, are on the rise across Florida as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

Cases of flu and RSV are also higher than in years past because COVID-19 precautions helped keep all respiratory illnesses at bay.

State health officials and medical professionals are urging people to get vaccinated this weekend.

Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, said it’s not too late.

"Reach out to your family member say, ‘Hey, a lot of us are coming in from out of town, we're going to be, you know, mixing together, and there's a lot of high-risk people within our family. Let's encourage everybody to go out there and get vaccinated so that you know we're protecting those that we love.’"

While COVID-19 and flu vaccinations can take up to two full weeks for effectiveness, Salemi said there are some immediate benefits and it’s still worth getting the shot before Thanksgiving.

"Its effectiveness is not perfect, but what it often does is it can reduce your likelihood of getting the flu. And if you do get it, your symptoms are more likely to be less severe, which is always a good thing."

Salemi added that people don't need to go "overboard" with precautions, but should consider staying home and isolating if they feel sick.

He also encourages folks eat and gather outside, weather permitting, and to consider masking up around high-risk family members and friends.

Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.