The Doctors Next Door

Soccer Star Kate Markgraf: Gets Us to the Flu Prevention GOAL

You've heard enough about this topic from me so I'd like to treat you to a guest post from an Olympic athlete and mother of three, Kate Markgraf, now of the Chicago Red Stars.

This Season, Don't Play with the Flu!

By Kate Markgraf of Women's Professional Soccer Chicago Red Stars

Kate Markgraf Olympics.jpg

This July, I had my twins Carson and Xavier, just as my older son Keegan turned three.  Running after a toddler while caring for two newborns is not easy.  And unfortunately I don't think my soccer skills are giving me an advantage!  Now that fall is here and the Chicago winter is approaching quickly, influenza is on my mind.  I'm used to playing defense on the field, but my priority right now is making sure I help defend my family during flu season.  I don't want any of us - or any of you - to be sidelined by the flu.  So I'm excited to be part of a campaign called "Don't Play with the Flu,"™ which is a national education effort about the importance of seasonal flu vaccination.  Here are some important things I learned:


  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the SINGLE best way to help prevent seasonal flu is a vaccination each year among those eligible to receive it. 
  • The CDC recommends all children six months through 18 years of age get an annual seasonal flu vaccine.
  • The CDC recommends that seasonal flu vaccination begin as soon as vaccine is available and seasonal flu vaccine is available NOW in most places.

In addition to talking to my doctor about seasonal flu vaccines, I'm making sure my family puts up a strong defense against influenza with a systematic approach, including avoiding germs, getting plenty of sleep, and eating well.  I keep in mind an easy-to-remember (soccer!) acronym - G.O.A.L.:

  • Get a seasonal flu vaccine every year for eligible family members.
  • Options are available.  Talk to your health care provider about what type of flu
    vaccine - the shot or the nasal spray - is right for you and your family members.
  • Avoid germs and illness. Wash hands often, cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue or arm sleeve, avoid those who are sick, and keep yourself and family members home when sick.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle with plenty of sleep, proper nutrition, frequent exercise and plenty of liquids.

If you are interested in more information, visit the campaign Web site at or Facebook page at  You'll find tips, quizzes, and one-of-a-kind videos and photos of soccer stars Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain.  Plus, for every fan of the Facebook page, the non-profit organization Families Fighting Flu receives a $1 donation.  And please talk to your doctor about seasonal influenza vaccination this year.  

--Kate Markgraf will be a defender for the Women's Professional Soccer Chicago Red Stars.  Kate was a member of the 1999 World Cup championship team and is an Olympic gold and silver medalist.  Kate now resides with her husband Chris, a former college soccer player, and their three children in Chicago. 



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