Article at a Glance
• Make sure you get a flu vaccine every year.
• Wash your hands regularly and use a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• If you get sick, try to avoid contact with others.
Getting the flu isn’t any fun, but it can also be serious. Each year, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and around 36,000 die from these complications. Protect yourself and your family by taking the following steps.
Get a flu vaccine
This is the first and most important step. Each flu season, researchers determine which three flu strains will be most prevalent. The vaccine is then developed to protect you against these three viruses. If you get a different flu virus, the flu shot can still make your illness milder. It is especially important that people at high risk for serious flu complications get the flu vaccine. This includes young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart or lung disease, and people 65 and older. People who live with or care for anyone in one of the above categories should also get a flu vaccine.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick, avoid contact with others so as not to spread the flu.
• Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you get the flu, take antiviral drugs if recommended by your doctor
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines that keep flu viruses from reproducing in your body. They can make you feel better faster and keep you from getting as sick. They are especially important for people at high risk and they work best if started within two days after symptoms start.
For more information, see http://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent