KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — According to the CDC, the 2019-20 flu season is nothing to sneeze at.
"It's a very difficult time of the year for a lot of people from an infectious disease standpoint," Summit Medical Group's Dr. Penniman said.
The CDC notes this year more than 170 million flu vaccines went out to the public, and the holiday can bring a spike in cases.
"Families get together for Thanksgiving, and then there is a few week break and then they get together for Christmas in tight quarters and share their germs," Penniman said.
That includes New Year's Eve and into the new year.
"It's a pretty miserable time for a lot of families because all of the different germs that they caught," he added.
For that reason, he adds it is not a bad idea to do a little disinfecting before you send your kids back to school.
Here's why it's important: the CDC reports, while all ages get the flu, school-aged children have a high rate and it is more dangerous than the common cold.
Penniman adds this is why a quick wipe down of some commonly used things could be a good idea.
"Those things that a kid touches, like the handles on their zippers on their backpacks, it's probably a good idea to sanitize those areas," he said.
Both Penniman and the CDC agree you want to make sure you are washing your hands and maybe wiping down regular household things, too.
"Keeping your cell phone clean, keys on the keyboard and the doorknob is a good idea," he said.
The CDC said this year there have been 4.6 million flu illnesses, almost 40,000 hospitalizations and a little more than 2,000 deaths. All the more reason to get ahead of the cough.
"Get vaccinated, it's still the most effective way to avoid catching the flu," Penniman said.