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How to Avoid the Flu
By Nicholas DeGregorio, MD, FACP, MMM

Nicholas DeGregorio, MD, FACP, MMMAvoiding the flu is difficult to do during flu season. The flu virus is seemingly everywhere you have to be, or want to be.

For instance, if you go to work, there's a good chance you can encounter it. Polls indicate that an overwhelming 85 percent of workers say they would come to work even if they have a cold or flu.

Even coming in contact with people who do not have flu-like symptoms is not necessarily safe. The flu is capable of being spread by contact 24 hours before the person spreading it even knows he or she has it.

Here are some important things to know about the flu and how it spreads:

  • Flu lives from 20 minutes to two hours on surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, and phones.
  • Flu spreads quickly among children at daycare centers because of close contact and toy sharing.
  • Only the three types of flu virus that are most likely to occur in a given season are covered by the annual flu shot. Once a flu shot is received, it takes about two weeks for the recipient to build up immunity.

However, it is important to know you have the capacity to fight back. Getting the annual flu shot as soon as it becomes available is always a good plan. And, continuing to take flu precautions after you've had a flu shot is also the right thing to do.

Here's some other things you can do to avoid the flu:

  • Avoid contact with people who are coughing or sneezing or who say they are sick.
  • At work, only use your own phone.
  • Wash your hands with soap frequently. Make sure you do so before you eat anything or touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Use gel hand sanitizer when you can't wash.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a flu shot for most people who are six months of age or older. A flu shot is your best protection against the flu.

Nicholas DeGregorio, MD, FACP, MMM, is Senior Medical Director for UPMC for You, the largest Medical Assistance program in Western Pennsylvania. For more information, visit upmchealthplan.com.



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