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For the best protection, get the flu vaccine when it comes out each year in October or November. But even later is better than not at all. It takes 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect, and flu season can last into March or April.

Keep your distance. If possible, stay away from people who have a cold or the flu. If you can't -- because you're caring for a sick family member, for instance -- step up your hand-washing routine and your attention to other defenses against germs.

Take care of yourself. Experts think that healthy living may help boost your immune system. So make sure you eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

Stay home when you're sick. If you go to school or work when you don't feel well, you can make a lot of people sick. Although a cold or flu might not be a big deal for you, it can be serious for people with weak immune systems, like young children, the elderly, and anyone with a long-term health problem.Working while you're sick isn't good for you, either. It can make it harder for your body to fight off a cold. So do what's best for you and everyone else. Take a couple of days off.