The single best way to avoid flu is of course to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits can help stop spread the germs.
Here's the things you should do, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Do disinfectant wipes and sprays work?
Yes, but only to a point. If you spray antibacterial spray which claims to 'kill 99.9% of germs', you might be surprised to find they don't work if you spray and then wipe it off.
You need to leave the spray on the surface for at least five minutes before wiping it off again. You also need to use a clean cloth, or you still risk spreading germs around.
Disinfectant wipes are less effective, because the antibacterial solution on the wipes needs to be left for at least five minutes in order to work properly.
The flu virus can live for up to 24 hours mostly on door handles and other regularly-contacted surfaces.
Regular soap is just as effective. Hot soapy water will kill 99.4% of germs. This rises to 99.9% in antibacterial sprays. So unless you are dealing with extremely serious germs or are in a very sensitive environment (e.g. very ill in hospital), you're unlikely to need or notice the 0.2% difference. Save your money, use hot soapy water.
Other key things to remember:
1. Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Flu is spread through coughing and germs in on surfaces
The flu virus can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Clean your hands
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
3. 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.
4. Practice other good health habits
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
5. Sleep well
Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. The more run down you feel, the more likely you make yourself a candidate for germs to take hold.
Do I qualify for a free flu jab?
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to people who are at risk. This is to ensure they are protected against catching flu and developing serious complications.
You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:
-are 65 years of age or over
-have certain medical conditions
-are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
-receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
-Front-line health and social care workers are also eligible to receive the flu vaccine. It is your employer's responsibility to arrange and pay for this vaccine.
Flu jab for people with medical conditions
The injected flu vaccine is offered free of charge on the NHS to anyone with a serious long-term health condition, including:
-chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (which requires an inhaled or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
-chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
-chronic kidney disease
-chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
-chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease or multiple sclerosis (MS)
-problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
-a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medication such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
-being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 or above)