When you ask most people what season it is, they'll tell you it's winter. Many health professionals, however, will answer a little differently. They'll tell you it's flu season. Although the flu can actually be caught at any time of year, the heaviest flu activity occurs between December and March. That means, if you haven't already started flu prevention, you need to start now.

Of course, the number one method for preventing the flu is vaccination. For a lot of Americans this year, however, that is not an option due to the flu vaccine shortage. If you are in a high-risk category (i.e. over 64, suffering from a chronic illness, pregnant , child between 6-23 months or caregiver of child under 6 months) and haven't yet been vaccinated, you should contact your doctor or local government health department immediately to try to get a vaccination. For the millions of Americans who didn't get vaccinated this year, here are some tips to help with flu prevention:

* Wash Your Hands. According the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu virus spreads "in respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing." Imagine this scenario: someone with the flu coughs into his/her hand. The flu virus is now on his/her hand. Then he/she touches a shopping cart, or a doorknob, or a checkout counter, etc. The flu virus is now on whatever he/she touched. Then you touch the same object. The flu virus is now on YOUR hand. You touch your eyes, nose or mouth and the flu virus has spread to you. You can see how washing your hands as often as possible will greatly reduce your chance of catching the flu. If facilities for washing your hands aren't available, use an alcohol-based waterless hand sanitizer.

* Don't Touch Your Face. As shown in the previous example, touching your eyes, nose or mouth is a common way people become infected with the flu virus.

* Stay Away From Sick People. Okay, this one's a little obvious but worth mentioning. Just remember that this method of prevention alone, along with not always being practical, is not foolproof. A person can spread the flu virus a full day before showing any symptoms.

Practicing general wellness can also provide some protection from the flu. After all, your body can fight the flu virus better when it has a healthy head start. Remember to follow these healthy habits:

* Drink Plenty of Water. Most adults need 64 ounces of fluids a day.

* Exercise Regularly. The CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 5 days a week.

* Eat Well-Balanced Meals. Be sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Don't rely on vitamin supplements to provide your nutrients; they don't contain the phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables.

* Get Plenty of Rest. Experts recommend adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Protect yourself from the flu this season. There's no way to guarantee you won't contract the flu, but you can certainly minimize your chances of being infected with the virus. Stay healthy and, should you be unfortunate enough to get the flu, please stay home!

About the Author:
Sherri Allen is the editor of an award-winning website devoted to topics such as family, food, garden, house&home and money. For free articles, information, tips, recipes, reviews and coloring pages, visit http://www.SherriAllen.com/