Five steps to take against the flu and other germs

Red Cross volunteers make influenza face masks during the influenza epidemic in 1918. Photo: American Red Cross Photo Library
Red Cross volunteers make germ face masks during the influenza epidemic in 1918. Source: American Red Cross Photo Library

Waa! Waa! Do I have to get a flu shot? No, you don’t have to do anything you don’t really want to do. On the flip side, the annual flu shot is your best protection against influenza (also known as the flu), a contagious respiratory disease caused by different virus strains.

In the United States, the flu season begins every fall and ends every spring. The type of flu people get during this season is called seasonal flu. Flu viruses spread when people who are infected cough or sneeze.

In addition to the annual flu shot, take these five (Sniff! Sniff!) steps to stop spreading germs, including the seasonal flu:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Reduce contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow
  • Stay away from others as much as possible when you are sick

Click here for more seasonal flu basics and easy to download checklist and tip sheet for taking care of people with the flu from the Red Cross.
Click here for in-depth resources, including the 2016-17 Flu Season Frequently Asked Questions from the CDC.

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