Getting the flu doesn’t’ have to be an annual rite of passage. Baptist Health Medical Group’s Anna Hart, MD, infectious diseases, shares her top ways to prevent the flu this winter:
- Treat every surface with suspicion. “Flu is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks,” said Dr. Hart. These droplets, containing the virus, can live on hard surfaces 24 to 48 hours, and up to 72 hours when those surfaces are wet. Frequent hand-washing is key to preventing the spread of the flu, said Dr. Hart. “The best way to wash your hands is with soap and water. If that is not available, hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol are acceptable.”
- Keep your sniffles on the couch. This is good news for people who need a day off, bad news for workaholics. You can spread the flu for five to seven days after becoming sick and, unfortunately, a day before symptoms appear. If you’re sick, stay home.
- Don’t be afraid of a little shot. “The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu vaccine,” said Dr. Hart. “Each year, scientists review the strains that are circulating and come up with a vaccine based on what strains they think will be most prevalent.” Anyone 6 months old and up can get the vaccine. Talk to your doctor about options if you aren’t feeling well, are immunocompromised or if you’ve had an adverse reaction to the vaccine.