(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
ATLANTA -- Flu season has hit, and hit strong. According to the CDC more than 40% of the confirmed flu cases so far, have come from the southeast. Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee have been hit especially hard. But the numbers in Georgia are also above normal.
So to give you a fighting chance at avoiding the flu this season, we asked doctors for their five best prevention tips. Number one get a flu shot.
"We've still got 20 million doses of influenza vaccine in refrigerators across the country. They can't prevent flu until they get into arms," said Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University.
Children under the age of six months are too young to get the flu shot, so doctors recommend everyone around them get vaccinated. Five children have already died this flu season, three from the southeastern part of the country.
Even after you get the flu shot, the next best way to avoid getting the flu, is to avoid people coughing and sneezing.
"I stay away from sick people. If you're sick, I'm not going to see you until you're better," said Georgia State student Aisha Snowden.
The goal to keep germs away from your face, so tip number three, is don't touch it! From eye rubs, to nose scratches and everything in between, we touch our face more often than we think. Little kids are the worst, which is one reason the Department of Public Health says more than half of the 71 people who have already been hospitalized in metro Atlanta for the flu have been children under 18.
"Your hands are the carriers of a lot of these bugs or the viral illnesses and when people wipe their nose and touch the door handle, that's where the transfer occurs," said Beth Faiman a nurse and mother of a 3 year old son.
That said, you can probably guess tip number four. Wash your hands often.
"As a nurse I will take a paper towel to dry my hands and then use that to open the door handles. These little things can really make a big difference," Faiman added.
While that tip is helpful, and true, we're not just talking about door handles and surfaces in public. Anything out there can make it in here. So number five, don't forget to clean the handles and surfaces in your own home.