How to stay healthy
Important Actions to Take to Stay Healthy

Although flu has received more attention than usual this year, it has always been a serious illness. According to the American Lung Association, as many as 60,000 people die each year from influenza or pneumonia. Having the flu (virus) wears down your immunity so you can get bacterial pneumonia. One serious infection that often follows the flu is pneumococcal pneumonia..

Once you know how flu spreads, you can take steps to reduce the chance you will get the flu.


How does flu spread?

There are two main ways that seasonal and new (H1N1) flu can be spread: through droplets and through touching.

When you have the flu, tiny drops with flu virus are in your coughs, sneezes, and the air you breathe out. These tiny drops are called droplets.  Although these droplets carry live flu virus, they usually fall to the ground within 6 feet. That’s why people who are within 6 feet of you can be exposed to the flu virus. That’s also why people who are farther away are less likely to get ill.

Because you can’t hold your breath until you are better, everything around you gets covered with droplets full of flu virus. Your pillow cases, your sheets, your covers, the table next to the bed, your towel, the phone, and of course….your hands! Other people who touch these things can get the flu virus on their hands. If they touch their nose, eyes, or mouth before they wash their hands, they may catch the flu.


Staying Healthy

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Unless you are taking care of someone with the flu, keep your distance.

2. Wash your hands often. Items that have been touched or that have been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the flu can have flu virus droplets on them. If you touch these items, you may get sick too!

3. Get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious food, and manage your stress

4. Get the recommended vaccines:


  • Talk to your doctor about getting a regular “flu shot” this fall (for more information about the regular flu shot, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm). Remember – most years about 40,000 Americans die because of the flu. Because we expect to have both seasonal and new (H1N1) flu going around, this year may be even worse. 

  • Talk to your doctor about getting Pneumovax if you are:
    • 65 or older
    • 2 to 64 and have a high risk condition
    • Lacking a working spleen
    • Living in a long-term care facility

  • Follow the advice of your state health department about being vaccinated for H1N1 this fall.

  • If there is as much vaccine as expected, groups that will be vaccinated first include:
    • Pregnant women
    • People who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age
    • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel
    • Infants over 6 months of age, children, adolescents, and young adults up to 24 years of age
    • People with high risk conditions who are from 25 to 64 years of age

  • If there is less vaccine than is now expected, groups that will be vaccinated first include:
    • Pregnant women
    • People who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months of age
    • Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel who have direct contact with patients or infectious material
    • Children 6 months to 4 years of age
    • Children and adolescents 5 to 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions


If you feel like you may be getting the flu…





  • If you have a high risk condition, talk to your doctor right away about taking antiviral medication

  • Keep your distance from others
    • Stay in a room that is separate from other family members
    • Stay home from work, school, & church when you are sick.  Don’t go back until you have been off medicine for 24 hours and been well the whole time

  • Keep the flu virus away from others
    • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth & nose with a tissue or sneeze into the crook of your elbow

  • If you must go to the doctor, call ahead and wear a mask

  • If you must go to the pharmacy, use the drive-through window

  • If you must run an errand, consider
    • Wearing a mask
    • Using the automatic checkout, if one is available