Knowing the right way to cough and sneeze is important at all times, but especially during respiratory illness season, during the fall and winter months. Dr. Charles Bregier offers tips for stopping the spread of germs that can make us ill.

How to schedule your flu shot

Current Novant Health patients: schedule your shot with your primary care provider here.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Visit one of our walk-in clinics.

1. Be your own sneeze guard

If you feel a sneeze or a cough coming on, leave the room if you can. At the very least, cover your mouth with a tissue or cough or sneeze into the fold of your arm. Do not cough into your bare hand. That’s how germs get spread. Immediately put all used tissues in the trash. Handkerchiefs aren’t really an answer because after one use they’re contaminated. Carry a packet of tissues if you need them.

2. Go into picnic mode

If someone in your family is sick, consider putting away the good china and silverware and have them use disposable cups, plates and utensils. By tossing those items out, you cut the risk of spreading germs.

3. About those grocery cart wipes…

Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it as much as possible. Use a household disinfectant or disinfectant wipes on surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door handles, cabinet knobs, refrigerator handles, railings and cell phones. At the grocery store, take advantage of the wipes they station by the shopping carts.

4. Don’t shake on it

If you’re sick, politely decline to shake hands and explain that you have a virus and want to avoid spreading germs. Wash your hands frequently in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Try hard not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, as this is how germs are spread.

5. Keep your distance

People with respiratory illness, like a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, can spread it to others up to 6 feet away, so stay away from individuals who appear sick.

6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

It is important to keep your immune system working at its highest, so stay hydrated, eat well and get enough sleep. Exercise is also imporant. It reduces stress, which helps your body stay resilient. Get a flu shot every year.

7. Be a loner

If you are ill, sleep by yourself to avoid spreading germs to your loved one. Use a separate bathroom, if possible, and do not share bath towels. Have your own box of tissues and hand sanitizer.

Sick? You've got our 24-hour guarantee.

Find care now