Sniffling, coughing and fevers. That’s right folks, flu season is upon us. And unfortunately, flu season also means more canceled appointments for blood donation due to sickness. But no need to worry; there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself from catching the dreaded influenza and maintain your donor eligibility. We’ve put together a list of five ways to prevent the flu (and keep on donating).
Get Your Flu Shot
One of the easiest ways to prevent the flu is vaccination. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites vaccination as the number one prevention step. If you aren’t sure of your nearest vaccination site, check out www.vaccinefinder.org. Just select “flu” and enter your zip code to see a list of flu vaccine clinics nearby.
Planning to get your flu shot but still want to donate blood? No problem! Flu shots actually have no effect on donor eligibility, so feel free to make an appointment at any time as long as you aren’t experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Embrace Basic Hygiene (But Not Your Sick Friends)
It might sound simple, but maintaining basic hygiene practices is one of the most important steps to stop the spread of flu. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests:
- Wash your hands often. And don’t skip the soap!
- Try not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your face with your upper sleeve or a tissue–and be sure to throw the tissue out immediately.
- Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands every time you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
- Keep your distance. Avoid shaking hands or close contact with others during flu season.
- If you work in an office, avoid using other employees’ equipment like phones, computers, headsets, etc.
If you start feeling flu-like symptoms, try to get some rest. To prevent spreading the flu, stay home from work or school; your body will thank you for it. Plus, you can avoid spreading your sickness to others — in this case, sharing is not caring.
Stock the Office
When flu season hits, make sure you’ve got everything you need to protect yourself (and your co-workers). For example:
- Keep hand sanitizer on you at all times. Unfortunately, you can’t always rely on high-contact areas like offices to provide it for you, so keep a travel bottle with you just in case.
- Have tissues within arm’s reach to catch coughs and sneezes and prevent germs from spreading.
Keep Up a Healthy Lifestyle
Though you might not think about it, the things we do every single day even when it’s not flu season can help you prevent sickness. Getting plenty of sleep and eating a nutritious diet will keep your body strong and able to fight infections. Doing everything you possibly can to maintain a healthy lifestyle will help increase your defenses when flu time comes.
Roughly 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year — but this doesn’t have to include you. Taking the appropriate measures to prevent the flu will help keep you happy and healthy… and eligible to donate blood!