By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just in time for Halloween, there’s a new reminder from doctors about the importance of mimicking Dracula when you’re sick. It’s the beginning of cold and flu season with people coughing and sneezing and spreading germs. It used to be to cover your mouth and nose, but not anymore.

The recommendation now is the Dracula move.

It’s time for Halloween festivities. Pediatric patients and their families were treated to a Spooktacular Halloween Bash hosted by the Philadelphia Phillies.

Doctors say with trick-or-treating, the seasonal illness heads door-to-door. Pediatricians say Halloween is a good time to teach or remind children to cough or sneeze like Dracula.

“Try to teach kids to cough into a place where we don’t touch other people,” Dr. Frank Esper said. “Our elbow has been one of the best things that we have found over the last years so when we cough into our arm and into our elbow, we don’t have to worry about moving those germs from place-to-place.”

The Dracula move of coughing or sneezing into the elbow mimics his move of covering his face with his cape.

Without that protection, germs can spread in the air and on surfaces. Some can stay active and suspended for hours. It’s why colds and the flu are so contagious.

In addition to guarding against being exposed, doctors say regular handwashing is the best prevention. Children should get in the routine of washing for at least 20 seconds, the time needed to remove viruses and bacteria.

“A lot of times, children are very happy to learn how to wash their hands,” Esper said. “They are just sponges for information. You teach them to wash their hands early and often, especially when they’re sick or when they’re wiping their nose or they’re playing with someone who’s wiping their nose. It is one way to keep them healthy.”

Doctors say kids under the age of 3 are not especially good at washing their hands. For them, hand sanitizer is a good option.

The Dracula move is good for both kids and adults.

Stephanie Stahl