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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Stop the Spread of Cold and Flu Germs

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    Get a flu vaccine. Anyone over 6 months old should get a flu vaccine.If you or someone in your family is in any of the following high-risk groups, it's particularly important. High-risk groups include:

    • Children
    • Adults older than 50
    • Women who'll be pregnant during flu season
    • Nursing home residents
    • People with asthma or another chronic heart or lung condition
    • People with diabetes or another condition that weakens the immune system
    • Health care workers

    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, avoid contact with sick people. 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. To better fight off cold and flu germs, eat nutritiously, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

    Stay home when you're sick. It may not be convenient, but if you go to school or work when you're not feeling well, you can make many 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 people with chronic health problems.

    Working while you're sick isn't good for you, either. Ignoring your own illness and not getting rest can make it harder for your body to fight it. So when you're sick with the cold or flu, do what's good for you and for others: Take a couple of days off.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on October 09, 2013
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