How do I avoid the flu if I don’t get the flu shot?

While the flu shot is still recommended for everyone, there are times when people cannot get the shot or it is delayed due to illness or short supply.

If you and your family are in this boat, here are some things that can help you avoid or fight off the flu.

1. Wash your hands! Ever since humans realized hygiene was important for health (discovered two centuries ago by Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis), transmission of illness has gone down significantly. It is now one of the first things taught to medical students and posted in restaurant bathrooms across America.It is also one of the most basic principles of health.

2. Be aware that people can have the flu up to 4 days before showing symptoms, and they will shed the virus as long as they are having a runny nose or cough.

3. Because of #2, avoid people who have the sniffles or crowds where sick people may be if you can help it. Be aware you can never eliminate your exposure to it and there will always be a risk – whether through the grocery store, school, family members, or even doctor offices. Reduce your risk but you shouldn’t seal your child in a bubble either. Adjust according to age and medical history. For example, newborns are more vulnerable than older kids.

4. Keep your immune system strong with good nutrition and rest. Make sure you’re getting your vitamins and sleep. Build up your defenses.

5. Speaking of defense mechanisms, get the flu shot as soon as you can. While people who get the shot may still get the flu, they are better able to fight off the flu and avoid the serious complications of the flu than those who did not get the vaccine.

 

For more info, check out these resources:

NPR: What You Need To Know About This Year’s Flu Season

CDC: Protect Yourself & Your Family Against Flu