NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cold and flu season is in full swing, and even if you got a flu shot you can still get sick.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, there are other ways to make sure you avoid the nasty germs that are all around us.
We do not live in a sterile world. Germs are everywhere, and many are actually good for us.
Just because we can detect bacteria and viruses doesn’t mean that they will get us sick, but influenza is a nasty bug, and doing everything we can to avoid it is a good idea.
Most New Yorkers have their own methods.
“Try not to touch things on the trains or to touch things with my sweater or stand in a way where I don’t have to touch the poles,” one Upper East Side resident said.
It seems like common sense. In fact, anywhere a lot of people are crowded together like subways, classrooms, malls, even supermarkets are places where you can breathe in a virus from a cough or sneeze.
It’s particularly important in the subway.
“You don’t know who’s touched that pole. Someone could have coughed into their hands and touched the pole. Chances are unlikely, but the opportunity to get flu from pole is minimal but not zero,” Dr. Susan Whittier explained.
Dr. Whittier is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia Medical Center. She said while people tend to overreact about germs, the places that you can catch the flu are things that lots of people touch.
“Like ATM machines, or where you’re filling your MTA card. A lot of people are touching those and you don’t know if they’ve recently coughed into their hand or onto the machine,” she said.
One way to minimize risk is to use your knuckles to touch the buttons, and when you fill out forms at the doctor’s office where people are more likely to be sick — either use your own pen or Purell your hands right away.
When pumping your own gas try to use a paper towel or napkin, and finally cell phones are loaded with germs.
“You’re not gonna catch something from your own cell phone. It’s if you’re sharing it with someone else, particularly during respiratory season, respiratory virus season don’t share your phone, don’t share your phone,” Dr. Whittier said.
The bottom line is wash your hands early and often — soap and water, or hand sanitizer is the best way, especially if you have to touch anything that lots of other people touch.
Of course stay away from people who are visibly sick, coughing, and sneezing.