The best way to prevent seasonal influenza, or seasonal flu, is to get vaccinated every year. Dr. Patel, can you tell us more about preventing the spread of influenza?
Definitely, Dr. Green. The flu vaccine, or flu shot, is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, but it's available and recommended for everyone six months of age and older. The more healthy people who receive the flu vaccine, the less likely it is the virus will spread to more vulnerable populations.
Every year, experts develop a new flu vaccine that protects against the strains of influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common. However, influenza viruses are constantly changing, and it's impossible to predict with 100 percent certainty which strains will be most common in a given year. For these reasons, some people who receive a flu shot may still get sick with influenza.
In addition to receiving an annual flu shot, there are simple things you can do to prevent the spread of influenza viruses. These things include:
- Practicing cough etiquette
- Always washing your hands with soap and water, especially after wiping or blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, changing a diaper, using the restroom, and before preparing and eating food
- Using instant hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available
- Disinfecting or wiping down commonly touched surfaces, such as sink handles, doorknobs, railings, refrigerator and microwave doors, toys, remote controls, and electronic devices
- Using paper towels instead of sharing cloth towels, and
- Reducing contact with people who may have the flu