Getting the flu is worse than having a cold, and can make a person sick for a week or more. So you'll want to do all you can to avoid it. These 5 tips can help:

  1. Get the flu vaccine every year. It's the best way to protect yourself against the flu. Getting vaccinated doesn't just protect your own health. It also helps the people around you because there's less chance you'll catch the flu and pass it on.
  2. Wash your hands well and often. Hand washing is an important defense against germs like flu viruses. Why? The body takes about 2 weeks to build immunity after a flu vaccine — and even a vaccine isn't foolproof if a new type of the virus starts making the rounds. Hand washing also helps protect against other germs and illnesses that there aren't vaccines for, like the common cold.

    Wash your hands after using the bathroom; after coughing or sneezing; before putting in or removing contact lenses; before using makeup; and before eating, serving, or preparing food. If soap and water aren't handy, you can use hand sanitizer (with 60% alcohol). 
  3. Steer clear of someone with symptoms. Flu viruses travel through the air, so try to stay away from people who look sick, or are coughing or sneezing. Note: Health experts recommend wearing masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Doing this can also help stop the spread of flu.
  4. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow — not your hands. That way, you're not spreading the virus when you touch surfaces that other people may touch too. It's also a good idea to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth, three places where flu viruses can easily enter the body.
  5. Stay home if you have the flu. You don't want to pass your germs to someone else. Staying home is a great excuse to curl up and watch your favorite movie, play video games, or read. Rest can help the body recover faster.

You also can fight the flu and other illnesses by keeping your body as healthy as possible:

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

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