It’s Almost Flu Season! Here are 5 Ways to NOT Get Sick

posted: 09/16/15
by: Mara Betsch
flu thermometer pretty young woman sick in bed

For anyone who's come down with the flu, you know that it is -- literally -- the WORST. And this annual season of misery is right around the corner -- the CDC claims it sees most of the activity between October and May. Though researchers can't predict how bad it will be, now is time to start thinking about your flu prevention plan. Follow these five tips, and you're likely to stay flu-free.

1. Get your flu shot
We know you're probably saying "duh!" right now, but you'd be surprised how many people opt out of the vaccine -- just 45% of people 6 months and older got the flu vaccine, according to a 2013 report. CVS offers free shots for those with most health insurance plans, including Obamacare, and you can search for your nearest location with this tool. So what are you waiting for? One caveat: No one is perfect, and neither is the flu vaccine. Every year, the virus changes, and scientists study the various strains, predicting which strains will affect the majority of people in the upcoming season (sometimes, they're a little off). The vaccine usually covers three to four strains, so though it's the top way to prevent the flu, it doesn't give you the excuse to skip these other recommendations.

2. Keep your hands to yourself
Much of the flu is spread through touching contaminated surfaces (which can include other humans) and then rubbing your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid unnecessary contact, and try to avoid biting your cuticles, or other habits that can spread the disease.

3. And wash your hands with soap and water
This is, quite honestly, the simplest and easiest way to avoid the flu. Wash your hands often, especially after having contact with young children, visiting public places, and touching communal surfaces. Good ol' soap and water are best, but hand sanitizer works in a pinch.

4. Don't skimp on sleep
We've already covered how important sleep is for avoiding colds, and the flu is no different. Aim for the recommended 7 hours of sleep for adults, and try to eat well, exercise and maintain all of your other healthy habits. People who begin cold and flu season in good health are more likely to avoid getting sick and recover more quickly if they fall ill.

5. Stay home when you're sick
This, surprisingly, is the hardest one to follow for most busy men and women. It's hard to pump the breaks on your schedule when you have friends, co-workers and family members depending on you. But "powering through" a long day of work or a child's recital when you're feeling ill can hurt both you and everyone you come in contact with. Keep your sniffles and sneezes at home -- trust us, people will happily cover for you if it means staying healthy.