The Single Best Way to Prevent the Flu

Don't let sickness sideline you this winter.

With winter approaching, it won't be long before flu season is in full effect. While getting the flu shot can help lower your chances of becoming one of the flu's victims, that herd immunity you're counting on might not be a sure thing. According to the CDC, just 31.8 percent of adults between 18 and 49 got a flu shot in the past year.

The good news? You can still keep yourself healthy and safe, even if your friends forgo the flu shot. The answer to staying flu-free could be as close as your nearest sink.

"Hand hygiene is one of the most important things, especially after exiting subways or public places with large populations," says Dr. Robert Coke, an intensive care and internal medicine physician at McMaster University. "Being in larger crowds also provides a greater likelihood of contracting a virus, just based off chance."

However, just because you're using more hand sanitizer than others doesn't mean you should skip the flu shot, even if everyone around you seems to be doing the same. Dr. Coke says that the flu shot is an especially effective tool for those contending with other forms of illness.

"Flu shots help a lot of people with low 'biologic reserve,' or, you know, when there's 87 things wrong with them, and they have low ability to fight off infection, or who are prone to becoming sick to begin with—end stage COPD or those who are immunocompromised, like from cancer, transplant, or advanced age," he says.

Even if you do get sick this winter, taking appropriate preventative measures may lessen the intensity of your illness and shorten its duration. Think your petri dish of an office means you can't avoid catching some nasty bug? The 20 Ways to Never Get Sick at Work will have your back, even when your germy co-workers don't.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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