How Does a Vampire Protect Me from the Flu?

By Tony B., Director of Research and Information

flu blog

Unless you have been lucky, you have or had influenza (flu), know someone who has been or is sick or are like me and ride public transportation daily and get coughed or sneezed on an average of two times a day. This year has been an early and aggressive flu season. There have been slightly more hospitalizations than normal, but the trends are still too early to be definitive. An interesting tool you can use to track flu activity in your area is Google Flu Trends located here. Google uses search terms such as certain medications or other health related information to determine where flu activity is most likely occurring. Their tool is not perfect, but has been able to predict flu outbreaks even before official surveillance networks. Another tool that you can use comes from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is located here.

Now that you know where the virus is, your next step is protection. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to never come in contact with anyone else. Seeing how this is unrealistic, I will try to provide some more practical advice. Generally you are contagious about a day before symptoms develop and about a week after you have become sick.
Get vaccinated – This year the vaccine is moderately effective, but at even the estimated 60% it also helps to reduce the severity if you get sick. To see a list of potential places to get a vaccine look here.

Wash your hands – Washing your hands with soap and water can protect you from things that you have come in contact with.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth – These areas are sensitive and are the most likely to allow the spread of the virus. Just common sense your skin is much more protective than your open mouth.

Cover your mouth and nose – When you cough or sneeze make sure to cover up with a tissue or practice the “Dracula” cough into your elbow joint.

Stephen demonstrating the perfect "Dracula cough".

Stephen demonstrating the perfect “Dracula cough”.

If you are sick stay home – Especially if you are in an at risk group, it is best to avoid going out and run the risk of infecting others. Workplaces or schools should have policies in place for this situation.

Generally practicing clean habits – Wiping down shared surfaces, having cleaning supplies on hand, and just avoiding contact with others that are sick can also help you from becoming sick.

If you do become sick, there are medications called antivirals. The most common are Tamiflu® and Relenza ®. These are not a substitute for getting vaccinated or practicing clean habits. However, they can help limit the severity and duration of the flu. Your doctor will prescribe antivirals if they believe they will work for you. Antivirals tend to have a smaller window of treatment effectiveness and also normally don’t remove flu symptoms all together. Kidney disease and other chronic disease patients are at a higher risk for serious flu complications.

Do you have a story to share or a best practice to avoid getting sick? We will even take a picture of your best “Dracula” cough!


  1. Almost afraid to admit it, but I have avoided the flu so far. Mostly because I go out very seldom except for dialysis treatments and amazingly, our clinic has not had that one case that would spread like wildfire through all staff and patients. I am very grateful for this and hope we can get all the way through the season without an instance. Had the flu shot, and I am sure that has helped a lot. And would advise a shot even now for those who have not had one. Loved your article and all the suggestions are true and real helps in keeping the flu at bay. WASH HANDS, WASH HANDS. WASH HANDS.

  2. Reblogged this on THE NONO SLEEVE and commented:
    Has the Flu gotten you, yet? Please read this article to avoid being attacked by using The Dracula Cough, and Wash Hands, Wash Hands, Wash Hands.
    Have a very healthy day and enjoy life.

  3. When I was a kid, I was scolded many times for coughing or sniffling into my sleeve — now, the CDC contradicts my parents’ requirements. Oh, Well!

  4. Reblogged this on DevonTexas and commented:
    I met Tony at World Kidney Day in D.C. and I appreciate his work on behalf of dialysis patients.

  5. Much too kind Devon, thank you!

  6. I live in Bordeaux, France and my job actually deals
    with this topic. Actually doing what you like and writing about it in
    such a quality way is a great gift. Your informative article
    possesses the optimal fusion of passion and well-written, interesting material
    that I’ve come to love and admire.

  7. My name’s Audry from Woodhurst, Great Britain and I have to say your article is really entertaining. The quality of your article is rather nice and I can suppose you are an authority on this subject. With your approval, would you permit me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with future content? Thanks a ton and please keep up the good work.

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