If you don’t currently have the crud, you’re lucky. It seems like everyone I know has it, has had it, or is coming down with it. “Yeah, it’s going around,” is the refrain on everyone’s lips. And although it’s getting a lot of press, I have yet to meet someone who has H1N1, but apparently I should consider getting inoculated.

I called my doctor’s office to inquire about flu vaccines, who told me they are not giving the H1N1 shots or mists, nor are they giving seasonal flu shots, and I was promptly referred to County Public Health. I called them and they said they are in short supply, and since I am not in one of the so-called priority groups (pregnant women, children and young adults, adults with high risk medical conditions), I would need to wait.

While I wait, I am becoming a freaked out germophobe. Thanks to President Obama’s advice, I am washing my hands like I’m scrubbing in for surgery every chance I get. My husband had the nerve to cough into his hand in public, and I started screeching at him to use the bend of his elbow. A co-worker came to work with a runny nose, puffy red eyes and a raspy voice, and I nearly came unglued.

So other than hand washing, elbow coughing and self-imposed quarantine, there must be a few more ways, in the absence of inoculations, to avoid illness. There are!

Maintain a healthy diet. This time of year, it’s so easy to get off track. It all starts with candy corn and continues with wild abandon until the New Year’s champagne chug-off. Ramp up consumption of fruits and vegetables and remember to drink lots of fluids (not the spiked bubbly kind).

Keep moving. I don’t know about you, but the shorter days make my motivation slide a bit. Make exercise a priority, put it on your calendar and don’t waiver.

Hands off. In addition to frequent hand washing, resist putting your hands on your face throughout the day (keep a tissue handy if you have an itch).

Gargle, guzzle and blow. Gargle with warm salt water or mouthwash, drink warm liquids and blow your nose pretty aggressively everyday. This helps reduce viral populations and their proliferation, so these are also good tips if you feel you might be coming down with something.

If you do end up with some form of the crud (sore throat, cough, sniffles, aches, chills, fever), the Center for Disease Control (not just me) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Use your sick days! If you are self-employed, don’t have sick days and don’t have someone to fill in, close up shop because no one will want to come in your store anyway if you are infected!

For more information about H1N1, seasonal flu, and free local vaccine availability, go to Ventura County’s Health Care Agency Web site at www.vchca.org.   

Lisa Snider is a local freelance writer. For more, go to www.LisaSnider.com.

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