According to CDC, the best way to avoid coming down with the flu is to get vaccinated. Beginning with that step, here the actions you can take to avoid the cold and flu bug and stay healthy this season:
- Get the flu shot now. Don’t wait to get vaccinated until outbreaks hit. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop and offer protection. The shot, which contains an inactivated virus that cannot cause illness, is recommended for everyone six months old and older. People between 2 and 49 years old may be able to get the vaccination in a nasal spray that contains a weakened form of the virus. A flu shot is needed even by those who got one last year. While the vaccine’s protection will last throughout the entire flu season, it does not last from year to year. In addition, the 2012-2013 vaccination contains protection against some strains that were not part of last year’s version.
- Wash up. Hands should be washed often and scrubbed with soap and water for 20 seconds. A handwashing survey from Bradley Corporation, maker of plumbing fixtures and washroom accessories, found that most people aren’t scrubbing long enough; 57 percent of respondents estimated they washed their hands for only 5 to 15 seconds. To make sure you’re washing long enough, sing “Happy Birthday” twice (to yourself) while washing and rinsing the germs away.
- Keep sanitizer handy. Hand sanitizer won’t clean hands that have dirt on them, but an alcohol-based rub can be an option if your hands aren’t visibly dirty and soap and water aren’t available.
- Keep hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth brings germs into the body.
- Clean up. Frequently touched common surfaces, such as computer equipment and telephones, should be kept clean. If you need to use a co-worker’s equipment, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant. Information about an office’s most offensive germ hotspots can be found through The Healthy Workplace Project website from K-C.
- Avoid close contact with ill people. Avoid shaking hands or coming in close contact with co-workers and others who may have a cold or the flu.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage stress, and eat nutritious food to be ready to fight infection if a virus invades your body.
- Cover your cough. If you find yourself coming down with something, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to help keep germs from spreading to those around you. Used tissues should go in the wastebasket.
- If you’re sick, stay home. Avoid compounding the flu with a case of “presenteeism” — showing up at work but being unproductive because of illness. Staying home will help keep others in your office healthy. CDC recommends that workers stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have respiratory symptoms and a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more, or signs of a fever including chills, a flushed appearance, and sweating. Other indications that a person has the flu can include body aches, a runny nose, a headache, diarrhea, or vomiting.