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How can I prevent the flu?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

The best way to prevent influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated. Each year, researchers decide what strains of influenza are most likely to become widespread, and they produce a vaccine that protects against these strains. Usually, the vaccine protects against the three most likely influenza viruses that year. Sometimes vaccines are produced for a specific type of flu, such as H1N1. In people in certain risk groups, antiviral drugs may also be used to prevent influenza.

In addition, you can avoid coming into contact with the influenza viruses by washing your hands regularly, staying away from large crowds when influenza is widespread. Staying rested, getting adequate exercise and eating nutritious food may also keep you from getting influenza or its complications.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrician

Influenza can be prevented by getting the influenza vaccine, or flu shot, every year. Because influenza is seasonal, so is the flu shot. In other words, last season's flu shot may not protect against this season's influenza.

However, the flu shot is only a start to preventing influenza. Good sleep quality, proper nutrition, covering your cough and hand-washing are necessary in protecting yourself against influenza.

To avoid getting the flu and to reduce its severity should you become infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone age six months and older get a flu shot as soon as it is available each fall. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for complications from the flu, including those who are pregnant, are age 65 or older, have a chronic health problem, are healthcare workers or who live or work around the elderly. The vaccine helps your immune system fight off the flu virus when you're exposed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.