TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The first batch of the H1N1 vaccine has arrived in East Texas. It is the nasal spray mist, which is not an option for two high risk groups: pregnant women and children under age two. While others wait for a chance to get vaccinated, doctors have few surprising ways to fight the virus. Doctors say they are the tried and true ways to avoid the flu.
"Hand washing prevents the spread of the germs," said Dr. Wyn Andrews, with the UT Health Science Center of Tyler. "Covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing."
But Andrews says there are less obvious ways to prevent the virus, like boosting your immune system.
"It is one of the easiest, cheapest things that can be done," said Andrews. "It's totally safe and can improve your over all health."
And, there are dozens of ways to do this. They range from getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours a night) to exercising a few times a week, and keeping stress levels low. Some researchers even say that too much sugar affects your self defense system.
"By getting the proper amount of sleep for each individual, then you produce the right amount of hormones that help the immune system work the optimal way it should," explained Andrews.
"It's a very fair argument that it (eating too much sugar) is one of many bad things that can impair your immune system," said Andrews.
When it comes to illnesses like the flu, Andrews says you can cleanse your respiratory tract by gargling with salt water two times a day.
"It basically washes the viruses down into the stomach where they can't do any harm," explained the doctor.
You may also consider rinsing out your nose.
"Blowing the nose really good once or twice a day and using moistened cotton swabs is a really good idea and can reduce the nasal population of viruses," Andrews said.
Doctors say in addition to keeping your immune system healthy, it's still very important to get the seasonal flu shot and H1N1 shot when it becomes available to the public. All of this comes as two East Texas schools resume classes after closing last week because of flu-like illnesses. La Poyner ISD returned Monday and Alba-Golden resumes Tuesday.