While the timing and severity of seasonal flu is unpredictable, being prepared by getting vaccinated and taking everyday precautions can help reduce your risk of being infected.

Recent reports are indicating that the 2014-2015 flu season could be worse than last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually against influenza. Because flu viruses evolve, new vaccines are released each year.

Vaccination is especially important for those at a high risk of flu complications such as older adults or those with chronic conditions:

  • asthma
  • cancer or cancer treatment
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • diabetes

It is also recommended that caregivers, health professionals, long-term care workers and those who are around populations who may already be sick or have a higher-risk for infection due to their medical condition or age be vaccinated.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends vaccination soon after the vaccine becomes available preferably by October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to provide protection against the flu.

Flu vaccines are offered by clinics, health departments, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, schools and sometimes work. To find a location near you, click here.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, daily preventive measures can be taken to stop the spreading of germs and reduce risk of infection:

  • Stay home when you are sick. Not sure if it’s a cold or flu? Learn more here and see your physician or visit an urgent care clinic when in doubt.
  • Wash your hands. Wash often with soap and water. Alcohol-based sanitizers are also useful when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Avoid close contact. When you are sick, avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose with coughing or sneezing. Throw away the tissue as soon as possible and wash your hands or use sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.  
  • Keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Germs can be spread on surfaces.