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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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What Puts You at Risk for the Flu?

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Are you more likely to catch the flu this season? What about your family members or colleagues? 

Knowing what boosts your odds of getting the illness can help you and those around you avoid it.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

Skipping the Shot

You’re most likely to get the flu if you don’t get immunized against it. The best way to avoid catching it is to get an annual flu vaccine.

Because the strain of flu virus changes over time, doctors come out with a new vaccine every year. So, it's important to stay current and get vaccinated each year -- preferably during October or November. But anytime before flu season begins is good.

The American Lung Association offers an online flu-vaccine clinic locator. Visit the site, enter your zip code and a date (or dates), and you'll get info about clinics scheduled in your area.

There's also a nasal flu vaccine called FluMist, which contains weakened live viruses. Don't get this nasal spray vaccine if you're pregnant, or if you have HIV/AIDS or another medical condition that weakens your immune system. FluMist is approved for healthy people between 2 and 49 years old. Also, the CDC now recommends the nasal spray vaccine for healthy children 2 through 8 years old.

Not Washing Your Hands

Frequent and thorough hand washing is key to keeping the flu away. Wash often during the day, and use warm water. Scrub them clean for about 20 seconds -- as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Teach your family members to do the same.

Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times in case you can’t get to a sink.

Remember, the flu is spread by people who are already infected. The most common "hot spots" for the virus are surfaces that an infected person has touched and rooms where she's been recently, especially areas where the person has sneezed.

Not Taking Care of Yourself

Your immune system may not be up to par if you don’t eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise and plenty of sleep, and manage your stress.

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