Whether you think you’ve got a shot at getting a flu vaccine or not, there are still steps you can take to help you avoid getting sick. That’s important, because the influenza virus (flu) affects anywhere from five to 20 percent of Americans every year. In addition, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized from flu complications annually.

    The Centers for Disease Control’s web site – www.cdc.gov – offers the following tips on flu:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.

    • If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

    • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

    According to the web site aboutgerms.com, a public education service of the Consumer Specialty Products Association, certain household disinfecting products may help prevent the spread of flu as well. The site says disinfection is an important way to protect all family members from illness—including those family members with vulnerable immune systems (newborns and children, the elderly, people with serious illnesses or those who are recovering from hospitalization, etc.).

    While not all disinfectants serve as virucides, the ones that do can help reduce the amount of undesirable bacteria and viruses present in a home. Such microbes can not only lead to flu, but to colds, infections and even food poisoning. Be sure to always read and follow all label directions before using any product. The advice to use disinfectants extends to offices, too. Experts say it’s important to keep offices clean—that includes keyboards, mouses and personal work areas. For more information, visit www.aboutgerms.com.