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No one wants to be slowed down by the flu virus, which is why protecting you and your family is the best step you can take to minimize the contraction of the flu, or at least reduce the length and severity of the symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control are encouraging healthy adults and children to take the following three steps to protect themselves from the flu this season. Remember, the flu is nothing to take lightly. For elders, it is especially serious and can lead to hospitalization or even death. Protecting yourself means protecting your loved one.

Step 1: Get the Flu Vaccine

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine each year in order to protect yourself against new strains. The vaccine targets the most common flu strains, and everyone 6 months and older should get the vaccine. Even high-risk individuals should be immunized in order to decrease the severity of the flu virus, if it is contracted. People who work with high-risk people, such as caregivers and physicians, should also be vaccinated to prevent them from spreading the flu virus.

Step 2: Take Preventative Actions – Every Day

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If flu-like symptoms appear, stay home 24 hours after the fever is gone.
  • Cover the nose and mouth with each cough and sneeze.
  • Wash the hands with soap and warm water. If these are not available, use an alcohol-based rub.
  • Avoid touching the nose, eyes and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.

Step 3: Take Antiviral Medications (if prescribed)

Although there is no way to cure a virus, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug to treat the illness. If your loved one is dealing with severe symptoms, an antiviral medication can reduce the severity of the symptoms and make them more comfortable. These medications work best when they are started approximately 2 days before getting sick, so if someone in the family is ill, it may be a good idea to start everyone on antiviral medications. Talk to your doctor about a regimen that is best for you and your loved ones.