The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza (the flu):
Take Time To Get a Seasonal Flu Vaccine
- CDC recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza.
- While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three seasonal viruses that research suggests will be most common.
- Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
- Seasonal flu vaccine also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from making them sick.
- People at greatest risk for influenza include children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, are encouraged to get vaccinated .
- Ask your doctor if you should get a seasonal vaccine.
Take Everyday Preventive Actions
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue or handkerchief is not handy, cough into your sleeve (whenever possible, avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands.)
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds covering all surfaces of the hands. Rinse with warm water and dry using a disposable towel. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid sharing objects such as utensils, cups, bottles and telephones. If you must share, disinfect the objects before an after using them.
- Eat well, stay hydrated with water and juice and get sufficient sleep to maintain your body’s natural ability to fight infections.
- Keep living and work environments clean by disinfecting high-touch surfaces (countertops, doorknobs, refrigerator handles, desks or work surfaces, remote controls, cell phones, computer keyboards, etc.). Disposable alcohol wipes are useful in this regard.
- If you are sick with inlfuenza-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other measures to keep our distance from each other to lessen the spread of flu.
Buddy up with one or more friends to become “flu buddies.” A flu buddy is someone you can call if you get sick, someone who will then check on you from time to time (by phone, text, or e-mail) just to see if you are okay or need anything. The idea behind flu buddies is that it is reciprocal; you should have and be flu buddies with more than one person.
- Identify one or two friends who will check in with you should you become ill, and agree to do the same for them.
- Talk over the ways in which you each may need support in advance of getting ill.
- Keep living and work environments clean by disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
If a Roommate or Buddy Gets Ill
As a roommate or buddy of someone who gets ill, it is of the utmost importance that you protect yourself from getting sick by avoiding exposure to the virus. To do this, follow these recommendations.
- If you are at high risk for complications from influenza, keep physical distance from your sick buddy (a distance of 6 feet or more when possible).
- Ask your sick buddy to cover their cough and wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Do not share items (utensils, ink pens, keyboards, cell phones, etc.)
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
- Use alcohol wipes to clean items that are frequently shared (refrigerator door handles, doorknobs, countertops, remote controls, phones, keyboards, etc.)
*Information from CDC and Flu.gov.