There’s certainly magic in the air as December unfolds. Yet also in the air are those unseen viruses that can cause influenza and other seasonal illnesses.

Much like a cheery greeting, they can be easy to share. How can you protect yourself and your loved ones?

Start off with the flu shot. It’s a fact: getting it will not only help you, it’ll help those closest to you, be they coworkers or your new grandchild. If you’re protected, others will be too, even from an unintentional “gift” that you might not even realize you had. Vaccinations are safe, simple and affordable. Protecting the population at large can result in a happier, healthier season for everyone.

Beyond the vaccination, remember two simple, healthy habits: handwashing and covering your cough. Thorough use of soap, water and a little “elbow grease” is the best way to limit the spread of any contagious germs. If you do have a cough or find yourself sneezing, it’s easy to use the crook of your elbow – or better yet, a tissue – to keep the air clear of tiny droplets that can carry viruses. It’ll also leave room in the air for the scents of pine, Christmas dinner and other good smells.

Kissing the grandkids – any baby, for that matter – is almost irresistible. But during this season of easily transferred germs, babies can be especially vulnerable to flu and even pertussis, also known as whooping cough. So not kissing them is in their best interest.

Of course when sickness does come to call, you have our help nearby. Fever, cough, body ache, dizzy feeling and runny noses, along with a general fatigue, all are signs of the flu. Kids, most commonly, can show other signs including nausea and vomiting, but they are less common signs. Your health care provider may be able to give you remedies to shorten the course of the illness or make symptoms more bearable. And for the sake of your loved ones, friends and coworkers, please stay home if you’re sick.

Young children and the elderly can be more vulnerable to upper respiratory illnesses, so don’t hesitate to contact your provider. If someone in your family has an especially high fever, or trouble with breathing, it’s time to head to the urgent care office or emergency room.

Wellness and warmth are the wishes we send to you and yours this Christmas! May there be many blessings and good tidings for you and your family. And if a bout of sniffles or something more concerning becomes part of your holiday, know that we’re just a phone call from being there to help you and those you love.