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Listen to Mom: Wash your hands, take care of yourself to ward off flu
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TRENTON, N.J. Despite the vaccine shortage, doctors say there are many other ways to ward off flu -- and most of it sounds pretty familiar.

Wash your hands. Eat your vegetables. And go to bed early.

Doctors and nutritionists say careful hygiene, a balanced diet and plenty of rest and fluids can go a long way toward keeping people healthy during the influenza season -- especially considering the expected vaccine shortage.

Frequent hand-washing is crucial -- using soap and hot water and rubbing roughly for about half a minute. One expert recommends hand sanitizers when soap and water aren't available, but says anti-bacterial soaps offer little help.

But -- despite the conventional wisdom -- don't cover your mouth with your hand when coughing or sneezing. That just means germs can get left on doorknobs and computer keyboards. If there's no tissue handy, today's doctors urge people -- especially children -- to sneeze into their sleeve.

And one more thing. Besides getting enough sleep, doctors are telling people to keep stress levels low, which keeps their immune systems strong.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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