Every year, Americans stock up on lemon tea, vitamin C, and herbal remedies to brace for another long flu season. But what really works? Protecting yourself (and your friends, family, and community) from influenza is as easy as taking these three simple steps. ,

1. Get a flu shot. Two-thirds of Americans plan to get the flu vaccine this year, but following through on this pledge can be difficult. Simply visit www.ZocDoc.com, find a nearby doctor, choose your own appointment time, and schedule an appointment with just a few clicks.

2. Stop the spread of germs. Common-sense germ precautions are one of the most powerful steps you can take to stop the flu in its tracks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this means washing your hands frequently or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoiding close contact with sick people; and limiting contact with healthy people if you fall ill.

3. Seek help if you are under the weather. If you do become sick, it’s important to see your doctor right away. Although many people think of the flu as just a nuisance illness, it can be very serious – especially for the very young, the elderly, and anyone with a weak immune system. Every year, the flu is responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and countless hours of lost work.

POSTED: 11/27/11 at 9:25 am. FILED UNDER: News