Protect yourself from the flu, find a flu clinic near you

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — No one person can prevent the flu altogether. But you can take steps to minimize the risk. The following are tips you can take to avoid the worst of the flu season.

To protect yourself and those around you, health officials recommend taking steps to:

  • Protect yourself: Get vaccinated and take antiviral medications as prescribed by your doctor. Flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals over 6 months of age, and can help prevent the flu or reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get sick. Antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of illness in individuals at risk for complications associated with the flu, especially for those with persistent or severe symptoms.
  • Prevent the spread: Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and wash your hands frequently. The flu virus is spread through the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, can also help prevent the spread.
  • Play it safe: Stay home when sick. If experiencing symptoms of seasonal flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and fatigue, stay home from work or school, get rest, and drink plenty fluids. If you are at risk for complications, or symptoms persist or worsen, contact your health care provider.

Health officials also suggest these important steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.
  • Use your own drinking cups and straws.
  • Avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
  • Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest and do not smoke.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, refrigerator handle, telephone, faucets).

“You will know if this is something different if they have the symptoms: fever, chills, runny nose, cough, sore throat and they’re not getting better with standard over-the-counter medication,” Baker said.

Nationwide, nearly 24,000 people die every year from the flu, and for the last several years, about 100 of those deaths have involved children.

Flu vaccine remains available through local health care providers and retail pharmacies, though area residents are advised to call ahead to determine availability. Individuals looking for a location to receive vaccine near their home can use the flu vaccine finder at milwaukee.gov/health.