If someone in your home comes down with an illness, it may seem inevitable that the rest of the household will catch it too.

If someone in your family has the flu, it is especially difficult to keep everyone healthy since the germs can be spread to others before symptoms even appear.

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent the flu from spreading in your home.

Get your Flu Shot

The best way to stave off the flu is by getting vaccinated every year. This rule applies to anyone who is six months of age and older.

If you have had a bad reaction to the vaccine in the past, or have an egg or mercury allergy, it’s important that you let your doctor know before getting vaccinated. He or she may recommend a different course of action for you.

Because there are now four different types of seasonal flu vaccines, make sure you talk with your doctor about which one is right for you.

The standard flu shot is still the most common and is recommended for everyone who is six months and older.

The intradermal flu shot, which is give into the skin instead of the muscle, uses a smaller needle and less antigen. It is only recommended for adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

The third type of vaccine, the high-dose flu shot, works best for older adults and those with a weakened immune system. This vaccine was created to help improve the immune response and increase prevention of the flu.

Finally, there’s the nasal spray vaccine. This vaccine has been debated in recent year, as some doctors believe it is less effective in preventing the flu. However, the nasal spray vaccine is still more effective than no vaccine at all.

Will I Experience Side Effects from the Flu Vaccine?

Many people avoid getting their flu shot because they are worried about side effects, like getting sick from the vaccine.

It’s important to note that the flu vaccine does not cause the flu, no matter what form, you choose.

It is possible to experience some mild side effects. This could be a fever, chills, soreness at the site of the shot or a headache.

Typically, these symptoms will go away on their own within a couple days.

When Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?

Because the vaccine takes about two weeks to fully kick in, most doctors recommend getting your flu shot before flu season actually begins.

Plan to get your flu vaccine by the end of October to allow enough time for the antibodies to develop in your body. This is what actually protects your body from the flu.

If your child needs two doses of the flu vaccine, he or she should get the first vaccine sooner so that the two vaccines can be given at least four weeks apart.

Practice Good Germ Etiquette

Because the flu is spread through droplets, it’s important that you cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

A tissue is the best way to cover yourself since you can easily dispose of it once it’s been used.

If you don’t know have a tissue nearby, use the crook of your elbow to cover your coughs and sneezes.

It’s also been reported that flu germs can survive for up to eight hours on hard surfaces, meaning you can easily pick up the illness without even knowing it.

Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid exposing yourself to the germs.

Finally, washing your hands is key. Emphasize to anyone in your home the importance of using warm water and soap to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are another way to kill germs on your hands, although they should be kept out of the reach of young children.

They should also be monitored closely when using sanitizer to make sure they don’t try to consume it.

Stay Away from Sick Family Members

Limiting contact with anyone in your home that gets the flu is a critical step to keep from getting the illness yourself.

If any of your loved ones is sick with the flu, it’s important that you also avoid sharing items that can carry germs, such as washcloths, dishes, toys, towels and utensils.

If possible, try to change your sleeping arrangements as well to limit your contact further.

Keep Your Home Clean

Flu germs can live on hard surfaces for hours, meaning any time you touch these filthy surfaces, you run the risk of getting sick.

The best thing you can do to combat this is clean surfaces that are particularly susceptible to germs, such as cutting boards, home desks, floors, toilets, kitchen sponges and dishcloths.

If a member of your household is sick, take extra caution when cleaning their belongings. Always wash your hands once you’ve handled their laundry and be sure to use laundry soap and dry on a hot setting to completely kill the germs.

Maintain Healthy Habits

It’s amazing how far a healthy lifestyle will go in preventing sickness.

Building a healthy immune system is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy.

To do this, it’s important that you get a full eight hours of sleep, include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, stay hydrated, manage your stress and exercise daily if possible.

Help keep your child and your household healthy this cold and flu season by getting them vaccinated. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care offers the flu vaccine at four locations in the DFW area.

We are open after hours and on the weekend—and welcome walk-in patients—to provide the most convenient service for you.

Each Medical City Children’s Urgent Care location is fully staffed with qualified nurses and physicians who are dedicated to improve lives.

If you have made an appointment, be sure to take advantage of our Web Check-In® feature so you can avoid the lobby and wait from the comfort of your own home.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.