December 5 to 11, 2010, is National Influenza Vaccination Week, so take some time to consider what you can do to fight the flu this winter. The following actions will help protect you from the flu:
- Take time to get a flu vaccine. This is the most important step. The vaccine protects against the three most common viruses, including the H3N2 virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. Everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccination, including people who are in the high-risk category for serious flu complications. The high-risk categories include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people 65 years and older. It is also important for health care workers and other people who work or live with people who are in the high-risk category to be vaccinated to prevent spreading the flu to others.
- Take precautions to avoid spreading germs. The spread of germs can be reduced with a few commonsense practices. You should use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and you should wash your hands frequently. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, try to stay away from other people so you don’t spread germs.
- If you get the flu, take flu antiviral drugs. These medications are not available over the counter; you will need a prescription from your doctor. These drugs can prevent serious complications and can also shorten the amount of time you are sick. It’s important to take these drugs within the first 2 days of the onset of symptoms.
To learn more about influenza, prevention, and what to do if you get the flu, visit the CDC Web site.