According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people fall ill, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands of people die from the flu each year in the U.S.
While it’s easy to get the flu, especially during the flu season, you can take steps to prevent it and to lessen its effects. Follow these tips form the CDC to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu:
Take a Flu Vaccine
- Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to keep flu viruses at bay. Get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- There are many different flu viruses, but a flu vaccine protects against the most common viruses.
- Each person aged six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year before the flu season.
- Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of severe flu complications, such as young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health issues, and seniors.
- It’s also very important for health care workers – and those who care for high-risk people – to get vaccinated.
- People who care for children younger than six months should be vaccinated to prevent infecting the infants, who are too young to be vaccinated.
Prevent the Spread of Germs
- If you know someone has the flu, avoid close contact with them. If you have the flu yourself, limit contact with others and stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Discard the tissue after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If those aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid spreading or contracting a flu virus.
Take Flu Antiviral Drugs (if prescribed by your doctor)
- Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that can be used to treat the flu. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for taking these drugs.
- Antiviral drugs can make an illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
- People with high-risk factors can take antiviral drugs to lessen the effects of a flu.
- Antiviral drugs work best for treatment if they are taken within two days of getting sick. Starting them later can still be helpful, especially to high-risk people or those who are very sick from the flu.
Learn more about the effects and complications of the flu virus, as well as additional ways to combat the flu on CDC’s website.