Last week I discussed some symptoms of the flu which as is well known can make you feel miserable.  How then to prevent getting this bug?

First and foremost get vaccinated! The flu vaccine comes in two forms: a killed virus which is injectable and a intranasal spray which contains live virus. Most folks will get the injectable form which because it contains no live virus cannot cause the flu.  I repeat: injectable flu vaccine cannot cause the flu! If you happen to catch the flu right after getting the vaccine, it means that you had been exposed earlier and would have gotten the flu anyway.

By the way, the risks of serious reactions to the vaccine are much less than being struck by lightning or being killed in a car accident.  For those of you  concerned about a government conspiracy to vaccinate everyone in order to infect us with some godawful virus or control our thoughts, may I suggest a visit to a psychiatrist, who will help  treat your paranoia.

This year’s vaccine protects against both the garden variety flu and H1N1, so two shots are not needed. Also, the vaccine is recommended for almost everyone.  The best time to get the shot is between October and February.  If you get the vaccine now it will protect you within a week or so.

There are also two medications Tamiflu, which is a pill and Relenza which is a nasal spray.  These products should only be taken by those at highest risk of serious complications who have been exposed to the flu.  Ask your doctor for further details.

Using an alcohol based gel  to clean your hands is a great idea. Use the gel frequently during the day.  If you are on a plane and are at high risk, use a mask.

If you work in a high risk environment such as a hospital do not report to work if you are sick, which will help reduce the risks to vulnerable patients.  If you work in a preschool or daycare, consider wearing  full body, protective hazard waste gear or be prepared to get that crud!