The power to beat the flu is literally in your hands: Wash ‘em often, and the virus that causes the disease won't have a chance to invade your body.

You'd think no one would argue with that -- but believe it or not, the folks who push flu vaccines act like good hygiene is some kind of witchcraft.

"The idea that you are not going to spread the flu by washing your hands has never been proven," flu "expert" Dr. Marc Siegel told HealthDay News.

Just one problem: He was wrong when made that statement earlier this year -- and he's been proven wrong again by a new study.

Researchers asked five Pittsburgh elementary schools to teach their students a simple hygiene program to help beat the flu, and compared disease rates and sick days to those of five other schools in the same area.

The program was called "WHACK the Flu" for its five basic steps:

Wash or sanitize your hands often.
Home is where you stay when you are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
Keep your distance from sick people.

Like I said, you'd have a hard time arguing against any of that (Dr. Siegel notwithstanding) -- and the results speak for themselves: The schools that did the WHACK program had 52 percent fewer influenza A cases than the schools that didn't get WHACKed.

WHACK schools also had 26 percent fewer absences.

Paging Dr. Siegel!

But he's hardly alone in his belief in the flu shot: The researchers behind the new study say none of this should actually replace vaccinations (God forbid!), but should be used in combination with the shot.


The shot is barely effective in the first place, and even the mainstream admits that. One recent analysis found that just 2.7 percent of unvaccinated people got the flu, versus 1.2 percent of those who got the shot. (Read about it here.)

A difference? Sure... but not much of one -- and other studies have found even less of a benefit or none at all.

Stick to something that's actually proven instead -- stick to clean hands. And while you're at it, boost your immune system with vitamins A, C, D and E and fish oil.

The flu shot might not work -- but good hygiene and a strong immune system will win every time.