As winter begins, there are steps you can take to help prevent the flu, a disease that causes 200,000 people to be hospitalized each year.

“A simple, annual vaccination offers the best protection against the flu,” says Gaurov Dayal, M.D., chief medical officer for adventist HealthCare.

An annual flu vaccination is especially important for those at high risk:

  • People older than 50
  • Children ages 6 months to 2 years
  • Women who are more than three months pregnant during flu season
  • People living in a long-term-care facility
  • Anyone with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, diabetes or a weakened immune system. In addition to a flu vaccination, Dr. Dayal recommends the following tips to prevent catching or spreading the flu:
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after sneezing, coughing, and wiping or blowing your nose. If water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use paper tissues when wiping or blowing your nose. throw out the tissues after use.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay away from crowded areas and living spaces, if possible.
  • Drink liquids to keep hydrated.
  • In the event that you or a family member catches the flu, stay home to avoid spreading the infection to others.

Visit to find an upcoming flu vaccination clinic.