Avoid the Flu in 2019: 5 Steps You Should Take Now

Photo of woman with flu symptoms.

’Tis the season – for flu. Flu epidemics occur in the U.S. every year, but unfortunately, it is not possible to predict what the 2019 flu season will be like. The timing, severity and length of the season varies from one year to another, but most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May. Last flu season was one of the most severe in recent memory with 48.8 million illnesses, more than 959,000 hospitalizations, and 79,400 deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here are five steps you and your family can take to stay healthy in 2019.  Share this information with coworkers, friends and neighbors, it takes all of us to stop the flu.


1. Get the Flu Shot, ASAP
  • An annual flu vaccine is the best way to fight the flu.
  • The flu vaccine is safe and effective.
  • The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. The vaccine is made with “inactivated” (killed) virus. It also takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to take hold in your body. Some people may experience a mild reaction from their flu shot, but that isn’t the same as having the flu.
  • The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu every year, especially people who are at high risk, including children younger than 2 years old, adults age 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems and chronic illnesses.

Watch Top 5 Reasons to Get a Flu Shot:

No more excuses – find out where you can get a flu shot today, with the Flu Shot Finder. Many flu clinics provide the shot at no cost.


2. Sick? Stay Home – Please

“If you are sick with the flu, we recommend two things to prevent the spread of germs to other people, ” said Maria Stock, maternal and child health nurse, Fairfax County Health Department. “Stay home and avoid contact with other people, including family members.”

Listen to Stock’s important advice on why you should stay home when sick and how to avoid getting the flu in the recent County Conversation podcast:


3. Wash Your Hands!

Washing hands is the most important and easiest action we can take to prevent getting sick and spreading illness. It may sounds simple, but keep these six steps in mind every time for best results:

  1. Start with soap and warm water.
  2. Make a lather.
  3. Scrub thoroughly for 20 seconds.
  4. Scrub palms, back of hands, between fingers and under nails.
  5. Rinse well and use paper towel to shut off faucet.
  6. Dry hands completely.


4. Cover Your Cough the Right Way

Cough in SleeveDid you know that germs can live for two hours or longer on many surfaces? When you cough or sneeze, droplets get released into the air. These droplets contain germs, including those germs that can make others sick.

If you use your hands to cover your coughs and sneezes, you can spread germs to everything you touch, such as door knobs, keyboards, elevator buttons, telephones and even food. Covering coughs and sneezes the right way can protect others from getting sick.

Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Or use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then discard the tissue in the trash.


5. Practical Tips and Reminders From You

We’re passing along practical tips and reminders we heard from our residents on social media:

  • Use a paper towel to open the door exiting a restroom.
  • Wipe the handle of the grocery cart before using; many stores have wipes near the carts.
  • Use your knuckle or elbow to push elevator buttons.
  • Get extra sleep when you can.
  • Eat a healthy diet – a lot of people are drinking tea and lots of water.
  • Use your own pen when signing in at a doctor’s or other office.
  • Avoid crowded areas when you can, including elevators.
Learn More About Flu From the Health Department


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