Phoenix, Arizona (NAPSI) - For many Americans, last year’s flu outbreak serves as a reminder that it’s a good idea to get a flu shot the sooner, the better.

In fact, a recent survey found that 47 percent of Americans surveyed report that they are more likely to get a flu shot this year, given last year’s outbreak. The survey was sponsored by CVS/pharmacy.

To help, here are some tips on how to stay healthy and avoid the flu.

• Get The Flu Shot Every Year, As Early As You Can: It’s important to get the flu shot every year because it is the most effective way to prevent the spread of influenza to others and your immunity to the virus declines over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot as soon as vaccine is available. A high-dose vaccination is recommended for people over the age of 65, as they are at greater risk of developing severe illness from the flu.

• Keep It Convenient: To make getting a flu shot more convenient, over 7,500 CVS/pharmacy locations and 650 Minute-Clinic sites offer the shot during daytime, evening and weekend hours. No appointment is necessary and many health plans are accepted, including Medicare Part B, which typically covers the cost of a flu shot.

• Wash Hands Frequently: Touching everyday items, such as door handles and other surfaces, can be difficult to avoid. To help combat germs, wash hands frequently (especially after coughing or sneezing) with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose.

Alcohol-based soaps and hand sanitizers such as CVS/pharmacy Brand Instant Hand Sanitizer with Aloe can be effective when you are on the go.

• Practice Good Health Habits: Getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking adequate fluids and eating nutritious foods are all healthy habits that can help to keep your immune system in top condition during flu season. If you do get sick, a pharmacist can be an excellent resource on over-the-counter remedies.

• Make Sure Children Are Safe: Children under 5 (especially under the age of 2) are at high risk for flu-related complications. Remind school-age children of the importance of hand washing, coughing into their elbows rather than hands and using tissues when they sneeze. Please note: The influenza vaccine is not approved for children younger than 6 months of age.

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