Our immune systems are on call in the battle against disease 24/7. You can make your immune system’s job a lot easier by taking simple steps to protect yourself from bacteria and viruses that make you sick.
Get vaccinated. You can’t be immunized against every possible illness, but it’s important that you protect yourself from as many illnesses as you can. Remember, immunization doesn’t just protect you—it protects your community as well. The risk of illness goes down as more and more people are vaccinated.
Wash your hands. Washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Soap and water are best, but an alcohol-based sanitizer will work if they aren’t available. Wash before and after handling food, after visiting the bathroom, and after blowing your nose or sneezing.
Don’t touch your face. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are vulnerable to germs. If you touch a contaminated surface and then rub your eyes or scratch your nose, you risk infecting yourself. Keep your hands away from your face, especially when you’re out and cannot ensure they are clean.
Keep surfaces clean. Many viruses can survive on surfaces for an extended period of time. Make a habit of cleaning commonly touched surfaces like counters, tables, phones, light switches, and keyboards. You can use soapy water or a household disinfectant.
Get your rest. Sleep plays a major role in keeping your immune system robust and ready to take on germs. Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, and don’t think you can “catch up” on weekends—you need a consistent sleep pattern to keep your immune system healthy.
As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking a few simple precautions can lower your risk of illness—and your risk of spreading germs to others.
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- Vaccines Protect Your Community. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Updated February 2020. Accessed February 9, 2021. https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/work/protection