Looking forward to the holidays? How about a winter vacation with your family?
You don’t want to be the one who gets sick and messes up plans for holiday gatherings and fun. Catching a contagious illness like the flu would definitely throw a wrench into festive planning.
While the threat is greatest for the very young and old, getting the flu can be serious for people of any age. That’s why you want to avoid it.
Here are some ways to prevent the virus from working its way into your household – and into your fun winter plans – this season.
1. Get the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for every person older than six months old, unless you have a life-threatening allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine. While getting the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, it does reduce your risk by 40 to 60 percent. Studies have also shown that symptoms are less severe for people who have had the vaccine and still get the flu.
2. Wash hands frequently. Germs are usually passed along by touch, whether that means using a shopping cart that has been used by someone who has the flu, or shaking hands with someone who is sick or has been exposed to the virus. When the bacteria is on your hands and you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you are likely to catch the virus, as well. Make a habit of washing your hands frequently—every time you return home from being out, before eating and after touching surfaces in public places.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you have a friend or family member who is sick, it can be tempting to go by and visit, or bring him or her some soup or flowers. But it’s best to leave those goodies on the doorstep rather than risk your own health. Contact with others who have the flu will significantly increase your chances of getting the virus, so avoid it as much as possible.
4. Stay at least three feet away from anyone coughing or sneezing. Unfortunately, some people continue to go to work when they are sick with the flu—or they may be out in public before they realize they are sick. To avoid picking up the virus, do your best to stay away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing—they may not have the flu, but it’s best to air on the side of caution.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Even if you’re washing your hands regularly, you may come into contact with the flu virus or other bacteria on your hands. Resist touching your face to avoid transferring bacteria from your hands into your eyes, nose or mouth. Try to develop a habit of only touching your face immediately after washing your hands with soap and water.