The CDC reports this year's flu shot may not protect against a strain of influenza that's hitting the U.S.
Q. Does this mean the flu shot is useless?
Not at all. Although this year's flu vaccine doesn't match two of the three main types of flu strains now in circulation, people who did get a flu shot and catch the flu get a much milder disease. This can make a life-or-death difference to people who are at high risk of flu complications, such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly,...
"It's our responsibility to cover mouth and nose so those droplets don't go
into the air... so they don't spread to other people," says James Mamary, MD, a
pulmonologist with Temple Lung Center at Temple University Health System in
"You should sneeze into a tissue or paper towel," he tells WebMD. "If you
don't have those with you, you can sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Just
make sure you put that clothing into the wash at night."
Keep that stuff off your hands -- so there's no chance you will spread flu
germs to another surface, Mamary advises. Otherwise, your dirty hand will touch
a door knob or elevator button. Some unlucky person will touch that knob or
button, and now he's got it. The nasty cycle of the flu virus spreads on.
Making It Work at the Office: Crisis on the Elevator
Here's a familiar scenario: The elevator is crowded, and someone's sneezing.
What can you do to protect yourself? To avoid those flying flu droplets, here's
Mamary's advice: "Turn your face away. Put your sleeve or your hands over your
Another tack: "I think that courteously asking the person to cover up. Some
adults don't know better. We can educate them. Hopefully we can do it in a
civil, discrete way. A smile, a hand over the face, and a wink can do the same
thing. Or tap them on the shoulder. It's just a friendly reminder."
In today's world, "we have the responsibility for each other's health," he
tells WebMD. "After all, 30 or 20 or 10 years ago, we didn't ask people to stop
smoking in public but now we do. Hopefully we won't have
to legislate that you can't sneeze or cough in the air."
Covering up is "part of being a good citizen, a nice person," Mamary says.
"It's taking care of yourself, your family. It's part of being polite; part of
being responsible. I think a lot of people just forget. They're busy in their
own thoughts. A cough is a reflex, and they don't even think [about] what's