Don't let flu season get you down
Caused by the influenza virus and easily spread through coughing and sneezing, influenza (the flu) is a very contagious disease. While anyone can become infected with the flu, children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions have an increased risk because they could suffer most from serious flu complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers yearly flu vaccinations the most important step in preventing the spread of the flu. The CDC recommends vaccinations for everyone 6 months or older. The 2011-12 flu vaccine contains 3 strands of influenza: H3N2, influenza B, and the H1N1 virus. Although these 3 viruses are the same viruses selected last year, the CDC recommends that everyone receive a yearly vaccine, as immunity to the flu declines over time.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can prevent the spread of the flu in many other ways:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- When tissues are unavailable, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow; never cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Limit close contact with people who are sick.
- If you become sick, avoid close contact with others.
- Practice healthy habits, such as getting enough rest, managing stress, and eating nutritious foods.