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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Preventing colds and flu

Right now is the peak of the common cold and flu season. Typically, the greatest number of those illnesses occurs between December and February, but some people may get sick as late as May. Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, says it's not too late to get a flu vaccine. And, for those older than age 65 or with a chronic medical condition, he says to consider vaccines against pneumonia.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Runny noses, coughs and sneezing ... it's officially cold and flu season. While there's no cure for the common cold, Dr. Poland says there are ways to protect yourself from the germs that cause illness.

"No. 1, stay away from sick people. Not always possible, but stay away," he says. "Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm. Ask others in a polite way to do the same so they don't spread those germs. Don't put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. That's a very, very common way that this is spread."

Remember to be a good co-worker and stay home if you're sick. Wash your hands frequently, especially when out in public, or use hand sanitizer. And don't forget to get your flu and pertussis vaccines. Dr. Poland says staying healthy begins with being healthy.

"What better way to protect against complications of illness that getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising and get a flu vaccine," he says.