Flu Facts and Places to Avoid

By Nancy Bostrom

Widespread flu is reported in our state and nearly half the country right now and health officials say that means you can expect more people to get sick in the next few weeks.

The best way to fight the flu is to get vaccinated, but it takes two weeks for the shot to become effective.  In the meantime, the best protection is good hygiene. That’s why physicians at American Family Care, with urgent care clinics in our area, have identified the top five germiest places and how to protect yourself from them.

Top 5 Germiest Places to Avoid During Flu Season:

  1. Debit card machine.   Get into the habit of punching in your debit card pin with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.  This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs.
  1. Community pens. Whether at work or signing a credit card receipt at a store, never pick up a public pen because they’re covered with other people’s germs.  Keep a pen handy for any situation that could pop up.
  1. Shaking hands.   People are more germ-conscious these days so avoiding a handshake is not as rude as once thought, especially during flu season.  If you must do it, wash or sanitize your hands immediately.
  1. Cell phones, tablets.  We are constantly using our phones or computer tablets to show friends and coworkers pictures or videos. This means other people are putting their germs on something you are constantly touching.  Get into the habit of wiping your phone down with a disinfecting wipe to cut down on spreading germs.
  1. Gas pump.  Drivers must get gas no matter what, sick or not. Protect yourself at the pump, grab a paper towel by the pump before picking up the gas nozzle.  You can also use the paper towel as a barrier when punching in your debit/credit card info.


  • Children under the age of 6, pregnant women and adults 65 or older are at high risk for serious flu complications like inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues or multi-organ failure.
  • Most experts think flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when someone with flu coughs, sneezes or talks. They can infect you from six feet away.
  • People can carry the virus and risk exposing others when they show little symptoms.
  • Frequently touched surfaces at work or school should be cleaned and disinfected especially if someone is ill.