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County urging flu, whooping cough vaccinations before holidays

PHOENIX — The holidays are coming and Maricopa County is urging residents to get vaccinated against both the flu and whooping cough.

Maricopa County Health Director Dr. Bob England said family gatherings, just a few short weeks away, are a breeding ground for viruses like the flu.

“It takes a few weeks for the body to build up the antibodies, so don’t put it off any longer.”

England said grandparents are among the most vulnerable to contract the flu.

“If you really want to protect your grandparents, get vaccinated so you don’t bring it to them,” he said. “The flu vaccine doesn’t work as well in older adults so get your flu vaccine. ”

England is also concerned with pregnant women who, like older adults, are at high risk for flu complications.

“If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, get your flu vaccine now,” he said.

England said everyone over the age of six months should have a flu vaccination.

The flu is not England’s only concern. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is at levels not seen in the United States in more than 50 years, according to Centers for Disease Control and England advised people to be vaccinated against it.

England said pertussis is nothing for adults. Most adults get a hacky little cough, but for infants, it’s a totally different story.

“Most adults have no clue that they’re coughing out germs that could kill an infant,” he said. “We had one infant die here this year. It’s 100 percent preventable.”