With flu season here, it is important to protect yourself in as many ways as possible.

Influenza or the flu is an illness caused by a virus. The side effects of the flu are a stuffy nose, sore throat, fever, headache and muscle weakness. Local health officials are offering up some tips on how prevent getting the flu. First is to get a flu shot, Mary-Ann Rock, the Manager of communicable disease and control department of the Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge Health Unit, says that the flu shot is targeted to combat influenza, adding that it is the best protection against the virus. She also said that the flu shot is free for anyone six months or older.

Rock says that other good practices to fend off the flu or other viruses is to wash your hands regularly, adding that you can get viruses from grocery stores, and or banks. Rock says that if you are sick you need to stay home to not spread the virus. Rock suggested that your overall health is key to fighting off viruses, saying that making sure your immunizations are up to date, eat healthily, get enough rest and covering up your cough in your arm, not your hand are all good steps to help prevent spreading or contracting the flu.

If your hands aren’t visibly dirty and you don’t have a sink readily available, that alcohol-based sanitizer is a good option to keep your hands as germ-free as possible.

Rock explained that the flu shot has had extensive research done and says that they are completely safe for everyone, she also says that they are effective. Rock says that they do have statistics that show since the invention of vaccines, the death rates and illnesses associated with communicable diseases have gone down drastically.

You can find out more about how to protect yourself from the flu and where to get the shot in Muskoka here.