The University Health Center recommends that those who don’t want to become ill with influenza consider getting vaccinated. This is especially important for pregnant women, the obese, those with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and anyone taking medications that suppress the immune system.
Flu season typically runs November through April in the Northern Hemisphere. The best way to prevent the flu is to be immune to the viruses and get both flu vaccines, including the new H1N1 vaccine, each fall, before flu season begins. Avoiding exposure to the flu is helpful but can be difficult. Ways to avoid contracting the disease include:
• washing your hands or using hand gels containing at least 60 percent alcohol;
• not touching your face, eyes, mouth unless your hands are clean;
• not coming within 6 feet of an infected person and not handling anything they have been in contact with without wearing protective gloves and wearing an N95 respirator mask (not a surgical mask).
Sick people can help by not spreading the virus. Do not go out unless medically necessary and then wear a surgical mask. Sneeze or cough into the mask or a tissue, then discard the tissue in the trash. Adults should remain isolated from others ideally for seven to eight days after becoming symptomatic. Children can pass the virus for longer than seven days.