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Ask your doctor

It’s that time of year again when folks start spending more time cramped up together inside small offices, living rooms and the like. And that means we’re all going to be sharing some pretty yucky stuff if we’re not careful.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has three main suggestions for helping to prevent the spread of the flu. They’re all very simple, really.

First, get a flu shot. The CDC recommends that this be done every year before the end of October for everybody who is 6 months or older. That’s probably you, if you’re reading this.

A flu vaccination can help prevent you from catching the flu at all, and it can help reduce the severity of the flu for those who catch it, anyway, especially for people at high risk, including children, pregnant women, folks with chronic health conditions and those 65 and older.

And here’s something great about the flu shot: It’s very easy to get. On Saturday, for example, drive over to the Bon Secours Health Center at 5818 Harbour View Blvd., and you won’t even have to get out of the car for your free — that’s right, free — shot. The drive-through clinic fits your American lifestyle far better than anything the flu will throw at you.

So you’ve got your flu shot. What’s next?

The CDC says you should take everyday precautions. That’s the part where you’re careful about washing your hands, sneezing like Dracula, using alcohol-based hand rubs and disinfecting surfaces that might have become contaminated by someone who ignored all the advice about getting her flu shot and is now spreading germs all over the office.

Which reminds us: If you’ve got the flu, perhaps the office really isn’t the best place for you to be. We’d suggest a day or two at home, but then we’re not doctors, so here’s what the doctors say: “If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.”

And finally, if you do get the flu, the CDC suggests that antiviral medications, which are available only by prescription, can help reduce the length of time you’re sick and make the whole thing a bit milder.

Ask your doctor. And then go home and close the curtains.