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Questions & Answers

Preventing Seasonal Flu

What can I do to protect myself against the flu?

By far, the single best way to prevent the flu is for individuals, especially people at high risk for serious complications from the flu, to get a vaccination each fall. To learn more, see Key Facts about Flu Vaccine.

What are other steps that can be taken to prevent the flu?

There are other good health habits that can help prevent the flu. These are:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When 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.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Also, antiviral medications may be used to prevent the flu. See Questions and Answers: Antiviral Medications.

Can herbal, homeopathic or other folk remedies protect against the flu?

There is no scientific evidence that any herbal, homeopathic or other folk remedies have any benefit against influenza.

How long can human influenza viruses remain viable on inanimate items (such as books and doorknobs)?

Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces for between 2 and 8 hours.

What kills influenza virus?

Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed until they are dry.

  • Page last reviewed February 15, 2007
  • Page last modified June 24, 2005
  • Content Source: Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases (CCID)
  • National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)
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