When flu season comes around, you can expect at least one person in your household to get sick. Chances are, you’re usually the one who has to take care of that person and inevitably, you end up sick yourself. This time around, stop the seasonal cycle of sickness by keeping you and your family healthy with the tips on this checklist.
Flu Prevention Checklist
- Wash your hands often – Whether you are at work, school, home or in public, make sure you wash your hands often. Everything that you touch, be it a ketchup bottle at a restaurant or a light switch at work, has germs on it and those germs can cause you to get sick. When washing your hands, make sure you use plenty of soap and hot water and wash them for at least 30 seconds.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you – For the times when you or your family aren’t able to wash up, make sure you have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Many of the small bottles are made for travel and have key ring attachments so they don’t get lost. Give one bottle to each member of your family so that they can stay germ-free wherever they go.
- Avoid touching your face – Even if you wash your hands often, you should still avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as those are the parts of the body where germs are most likely to enter. If you have to touch your face, make sure your hands are absolutely clean or use a clean tissue as a barrier between your face and hands.
- Keep your family as healthy as possible – Make sure that you and your family are eating a well-balanced diet, are drinking plenty of fluids and are exercising regularly. Up your intake of vitamin C to give your immune system a boost. The healthier you keep your body, the better it can fight off any germs with which it comes into contact.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick – This is may be easier said than done, especially if your children or elderly parents are sick and you have to care for them. But if this isn’t the case, try to avoid contact with any friends, family members or coworkers who may be sick. The less you are around them, the less chance you have of getting sick.
- Keep plenty of tissues on hand – Stock up on tissues and make sure everyone in your household has easy access to them. Sneezing and coughing openly around the house is a good way to spread germs, so be sure to always use a tissue. If you feel a sneeze coming on, but the tissues are nowhere in sight, sneeze into the crook of your elbow. If you use your hands, you will easily spread germs to the things you touch or when you shake a person’s hand.
- Stay home if you start to show any symptoms – If you start to feel under the weather, stay home and get some rest. The earlier you nip the illness in the bud, the quicker you’ll recover. Besides, you wouldn’t want to spread the flu to anybody else.
- Breastfeed if you have a newborn baby – The best way to protect a newborn from the flu is to breastfeed. Antibodies will get passed to the baby through the milk and will help him or her stay healthy throughout the flu season.
- Get vaccinated – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone at least 6 months of age get vaccinated. The best time to get vaccinated is just before flu season or as soon as the vaccination becomes available in your area. Although mild side effects like headaches, soreness, and a fever may arise after receiving the vaccination, in most cases it’s better to have the protection that the vaccination provides.
Facts About Vaccinations
The flu vaccination will keep you protected for the length of the flu season and, as mentioned, it’s best to get vaccinated as soon as possible. However, you can get vaccinated at any time and it isn’t too late to get vaccinated mid-flu season. There are two types of vaccines that you can get:
- The flu shot – This is the original method which involves injecting an inactivated, or dead, version of the virus. The flu shot has been approved for people older than six months who are healthy or who have chronic conditions.
- The nasal spray – The nasal spray is the newer method of vaccination and involves spraying a weakened version of the virus into the nose. This method has only been approved for people ages 2-49 who are healthy, the only exception being pregnant women. (For more information, see Flu Shots and Pregnancy).
It will take about two weeks for your body to develop antibodies to the flu virus, and in the meantime, you will still be susceptible to getting sick with the flu. During that time, make sure to continue following the tips on this checklist to keep the flu virus at bay.