Stay germ-free this flu season

Stay germ-free this flu season

Prevent infection from both the flu and COVID-19 with these simple tips

flu season prevention

With the flu comes plenty of uncomfortable symptoms, like a fever, body aches, and coughing and sneezing. Unfortunately, those symptoms are similar to those of COVID-19, making differentiating between the two viruses a challenge when you’re sick.

The good news: The same stay-well strategies you use to protect yourself against the flu also apply to COVID-19. Use these five expert tips to stay infection-free this fall.

Step #1: Get a Flu Shot

Getting the flu shot is a preventive care benefit available to you through your insurance coverage. You can visit any participating in-network provider to receive a flu vaccine at no charge. To find a participating provider, use the Find a Doctor Tool at or call our Member Help Team. You can get the vaccine from your primary care physician, but a copayment may apply if you receive a separate, additional, non-preventive evaluation and/or service. You may have to pay a fee up front at some pharmacies and submit a form to be reimbursed by Independence Blue Cross.

While the flu shot won’t protect you against contracting COVID-19, it’s an essential first step in staying healthy this season. It’s also important to note that you can get the flu outside of the typical flu season. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, call your doctor. There are blood tests available that can confirm a flu diagnosis, but it is important to get them within the first few days of your symptoms. Seniors in particular are at a higher risk for complications from both the flu and COVID-19.

If you or someone you love is having trouble breathing, pressure or pain in your chest, new confusion, an inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Step #2: Wash Your Hands Correctly (and Often)

As frequently as possible (and especially when touching commonly used surfaces, being out in public, blowing your nose, or eating or preparing food), wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If there’s no sink available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Step #3: Avoid Touching Your Face

“On your hands, a respiratory virus can’t really hurt you. But touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, and it will enter your system, replicate, and make you sick,” says epidemiologist Brandon Brown, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Center for Healthy Communities at the University of California, Riverside.

Your first step: Know your touch triggers. Do you bite your nails when you’re stressed or bored? Do you rub your eyes when you’re anxious? Do you itch your nose when you feel uncomfortable?

If you can figure out your face-touching cues, you’re one step closer to changing the behavior. The next time you notice an urge to reach for your face, stop and think about what’s going on around you that might be triggering the touch. It also helps to have a tissue on hand.

Step #4: Wear a Face Covering in Public

In public settings, wear a face covering (that covers both your nose and mouth) and maintain at least six feet of distance between you and others. If you need to remove it for any reason, be sure to either wash your hands or use sanitizer first.

Step #5: Clean and Disinfect Surfaces Daily

This includes doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.