Cold and Flu
It may be a severe flu season this year. Your best defense is to get a flu shot.
Even though flu season is not in full swing, you can still help protect yourself from the flu if you get the vaccine as soon as it is available.
Who needs it?
Everyone 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine.
It’s really important that people at high risk get the vaccine. Those at high risk include:
- Kids younger than five years old
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People who have chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- Anyone who lives with or is in close contact with someone on that list should also make getting the vaccine a priority
It takes several weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect. And since flu season can continue until May, the sooner you get your shot, the better.
What else can you do?
Even if you’ve had your flu shot, you should take these steps to avoid the flu virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Stay away from sick people.
It’s important not to spread germs to others. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away. If you get sick with a flu-like illness, stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
Hand Washing Tips
Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent many common infections. If you’re caring for or visiting someone with the flu, wash your hands each time you enter and leave the room. Follow these steps:
- Use warm water and plenty of soap. Work up a good lather.
- Clean the whole hand, under your nails, between your fingers, and up the wrists.
- Wash for at least 15 seconds. Don’t just wipe — scrub well.
- Rinse, letting the water run down your fingers, not up your wrists.
- Dry your hands well. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door
Using Hand Sanitizer
Alcohol-based hand gels are also a good choice for cleaning your hands. Use them when you don’t have access to soap and water or your hands aren’t visibly dirty. Follow these steps:
- Squeeze about a tablespoon of gel into the palm of one hand.
- Rub your hands together briskly, cleaning the backs of your hands, the palms, between your fingers, and up the wrists.
- Rub until the gel is gone and your hands are completely dry.