The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year." That goes for anyone 6 months or older who doesn't have a known egg or chicken protein allergy.
If you're worried about vaccinating your family because you've heard rumors that flu shots can cause autism in children, you can put your fears aside. WebMD's video The Truth About Flu Shots explains that no reliable study has shown a link between flu vaccinations and autism; plus, vaccinations for children no longer include thimerosal, the ingredient at the crux of the debate.
Think before you touch
According to Dr. David Farman, an emergency medicine physician at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville, Indiana, "Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets, meaning coughing and sneezing. If you cough on a hand or on a surface and someone else touches that surface or shakes your hand, then touches their face, ta da! You've spread the virus."
To avoid picking up the virus from surfaces where respiratory droplets have been deposited, think before you touch. Teach your family to push through doors using their hips or shoulders and to turn knobs while holding a paper towel or tissue.
Wash your hands frequently
Even the most conscientious individual can't avoid touching every public surface, so your family is bound to pick up at least a few potential sickness-inducing germs throughout the day. Teach your family to wash hands thoroughly and frequently to help prevent the spread of flu.
Give a wide berth
Unfortunately, lots of people continue to go to school or work when they're sick. If your coworkers or your kids' friends are showing the sniffling, sneezing, runny nose and other symptoms commonly associated with the flu, try to avoid contact at all cost. Don't make the sick person feel like a pariah, but give him a several-foot berth and avoid touching surfaces that he just touched.
Stop the spread
Just because one member of your family starts showing flu symptoms doesn't mean your whole family has to become infected. When a family member starts to cough or complain of cold-like symptoms, Farman suggests that she wear a mask. It may seem a little off-putting, but the mask will prevent respiratory droplets from landing on household surfaces, reducing the likelihood that the virus will spread.
"If you want to prevent your family from getting the flu, get vaccinated, wash your hands regularly and cover your cough."
– David Farman, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., Department of Emergency Medicine, Hendricks Regional Health
More on flu prevention
Natural cold & flu fighters
Are you at risk for the flu?
Protecting your children from the flu
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