MEMPHIS, Tennessee — To help people stay healthy during what is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel season, Richard Webby, Ph.D., a member of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department, and one of a select group of scientists responsible for determining the composition of flu vaccines each year, is offering important tips for protecting individuals from the flu.
November through February are peak flu months, and last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest in history.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Department has released a fact sheet with useful medical advice and tips on prevention, titled Controlling the Spread of Colds and Flu.
Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Having family members vaccinated helps provide a circle of protection. All members of the family six months or older are recommended to receive an annual flu vaccine.
Clean hands often with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The flu is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Individuals can breathe in the flu virus by being near an infected person who is coughing or sneezing, or become infected through touching.
Stay home when sick. Until free of symptoms and a fever for 24 hours, individuals may remain contagious. Cold and flu symptoms include coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills or fatigue. It is possible for people infected with a flu virus to infect others a day before symptoms appear.
Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneeze with an arm or facial tissue. Throw the tissue away and clean hands. Individuals with a fever along with symptoms that have to leave the house should consider using a face mask in public to help control spreading the virus.
Avoid touching nose and mouth. Touching objects like door handles or toys that have flu virus on them, and then touching the mouth or nose is a prime way the flu virus spreads from person to person.
"While the flu vaccine is the number one way to protect yourself, there are other basic, lifesaving precautions you can take to minimize risk and help control spread of the virus,” Webby said. "This holiday season while millions of people travel, practicing a few simple steps can help combat the dangerous flu virus. Whether in the airport, on a train or in the car, we can all do our part to protect ourselves and our neighbors, while looking out for the most vulnerable members of our society."
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“The more people who get the flu shot, the less chance the virus can spread while protecting more people,” said Webby.