Going by calendar dates, flu season starts in mid-October and runs until the following April. Of course, there are always flu viruses going around but that “season” is the time the bugs take hold. As any first-year medical student will tell you, the flu is a virus that in contracted when someone comes in contact with that virus. There never seems to be a “patient zero.” Whatever flu you might catch is always the “flu that is going around.” Your chances of getting sick increase if you work in close quarters with other folks like in an office. Here’s some good advice for surviving the flu season while working in an office:

Get the Flu Shot

Even though the flu shot is not a 100% guarantee that you won’t get the flu, it could minimize the impact. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take hold in your system, so the earlier you get it, the earlier you’ll be fortified. And, no, you won’t catch the flu from the flu shot. If you do get the flu after the shot, then it is because you already picked up the virus.

Always Be Washing

Your best friend during flu season should be a family-size container of hand sanitizer. Be sure it is alcohol based as those tend to be the most effective when it comes to wiping out the flu virus. After shaking anyone’s hand or coming in contact with any surface that you haven’t personally sanitize, give your hands the treatment. You should especially be washing your hands and/or sanitizing before eating or preparing any meal.

Keep Your Hands Off Your Face

The flu virus is picked up by respiratory particles that have landed on surfaces like doorknobs, telephones, computers and anything else in proximity. When you touch those surfaces and then touch your face you could be putting yourself at risk. The simple act of rubbing your tired eyes could trigger a pathway for the virus to enter your body. If you need to rub those eyes, then wash those hands first.

Support Co-workers Going Home

A sick co-worker is a contagious co-worker. If someone shows up at the office sneezing, coughing and blowing their nose, then they aren’t doing anyone any favors. You should encourage them to turn around, go home and stay there until they get better. If you don’t feel comfortable telling them directly, then tell your supervisor. It is much better to send one person home early then to wipe out the entire office. And that rule applies to you, too!

Work Someplace Else

If you’re surrounded by coughing co-workers who aren’t going anywhere, then you should find a different workspace. Move to the conference room or to another cubicle for the duration.

Make Your Health a Priority

When you feel the first signs of the flu (stuffy nose, achy feelings, fever) get yourself go into urgent care mode. Go see your doctor to get a confirmation of the flu. Armed with that information, you can follow a prescribed path of recovery. It is also your “get out of work” card to play. A doctor’s “note” trumps all!

Before the worse can happen, you can boost your own immune system by eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, exercising and cutting down on the stress. Put yourself in a good space and those viruses will go running!