It’s no surprise that flu season comes every year, but are you doing everything you can to protect yourself and your family? The flu is caused by viruses that infect your nose, throat and lungs and it’s easily spread from person to person. The best way to protect yourself from the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

Almost everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. It’s especially important for certain people to get the vaccine, including:

  • People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
  • Pregnant women
  • People ages 65 and older
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk of developing serious complications, such as caregivers of people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease

And, there’s good news if you’re allergic to eggs. In the past, the seasonal flu vaccine included egg protein, so people with egg allergies couldn’t get vaccinated. But now they can with FluBlok, a new vaccine that will be available during the 2013-2014 flu season for people ages 18 through 49 years with an egg allergy. This new vaccine doesn’t contain egg protein. If you have an egg allergy and FluBlok isn’t available, talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated.

Do I Need to Get a Flu Shot Every Year?

Yes. Even if you’ve received a flu vaccine in the past, you need one each year because flu viruses are always changing and it’s possible a new flu strain will appear each year. By getting a vaccination each year, you are getting the best protection.

Does the Flu Vaccine Give Me the Flu?

No. You’ve probably heard that if you get a flu vaccine shot, you’ll get a touch of the flu afterwards, but that’s just a myth. The viruses in a flu vaccine shot are inactivated (killed), so they can’t give you the flu. The most common side effect of a flu shot is soreness where the shot was given.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself

Getting vaccinated is important, but there’s more you can do to prevent spreading germs.

Wash Your Hands

Proper hand washing can prevent spreading the flu. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests using this technique when washing your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together to make a lather and continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse well under running water.

Stay healthy this season by washing your hands in these instances:

  • After sneezing or coughing
  • Before eating or touching food
  • After using the bathroom/toilet
  • When they are filmy, sticky or visibly dirty

Disinfect Your Home and Office

It’s important to keep your home and workplace clean and disinfected to avoid spreading germs. Cleaning with soap and water removes dirt and most germs, but disinfecting actually kills germs.

Use antibacterial wipes to kill germs on commonly used spaces in your home or office. Examples include countertops, faucet handles, doorknobs, desktops, phones, computer screens and keyboards.

Know When to Stay Home

If you have symptoms of the flu, stay home (or keep kids home) from school or work until you are fever-free (without the help of fever-reducing medicine) for at least 24 hours.

Learn more about the seasonal flu and vaccine by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.