Influenza is a seasonal disease that spreads by airborne droplets and contaminated surfaces. It's highly contagious - people can spread the flu even if they don't know they’re sick.
What is the best way to protect myself and my family from the flu?
Get the seasonal flu vaccine
Most deaths and hospitalizations from influenza and its related complications occur in babies, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. But the majority of flu is spread by young, healthy, unvaccinated children and adults. That's why vaccination is such an important part of flu prevention.
Wash your hands
- Washing your hands often helps protect you from germs.
- Use soap and warm water. Wash for 15 to 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You can find these products in most supermarkets and drugstores.
- If the hand sanitizer is a gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
Take everyday precautions
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you get sick.
- Clean work and household surfaces often.
- Wear a mask if you have a weakened immune system.
- Ask your family, friends and health providers to get a flu vaccination.
- Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
- Manage any chronic conditions.
People who smoke get the flu more easily and get sicker when they do. This is also true of people who breathe secondhand smoke, especially children and senior citizens.
Call the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free coaching and advice on quitting. The call is free and confidential. Patches or medicines to help you quit may be available. For more, visit www.quitnow.net/oregon.