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Everyone can take responsibility and contribute in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Watch Karin Malmros talk about what you can do as an individual to prevent infection and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria

Photocredit and license: NIAID (photo on the injection) and Michael Himbeault (photo on the cuttingboard). 

Overview diagram of the information described in the text.

Use antibiotics wisely


  • See a health care professional for diagnosis and do not demand antibiotics, instead ask if other possible ways for relief are available.
  • Do not self-medicate with antibiotics or use leftover medicines from a previous illness.
  • Follow treatment directions if you are prescribed a course of antibiotics


Antibiotic use accelerates development and spread of resistant bacteria. Furthermore, taking antibiotics is associated with risks, including side effects such as diarrhea, allergic reactions and colonization of resistant bacteria in the body. Therefore, antibiotics should be used only when needed.

Many infections, such as the common cold or the flu, are caused by viruses and can not be treated by antibiotics. Also, some bacterial infections can be taken care of by your immune system and do not require antibiotics. Since different antibiotics are used for different bacterial infections, the choice of therapy is complicated and requires medical training. Old medicines can have lower activity and fail to work.

Cold? Flu? Take care not antibiotics. A health message for European antibiotic awareness day
Antibiotics do not work against colds and the flu (campaign for European antibiotic awareness day, ECDC).

Stay healthy


  • Wash your hands and insist that others wash their hands too.
  • Get vaccinated and make sure other family members are vaccinated. There are many extensively used and safe vaccines that protect against viral and bacterial diseases such as polio and whooping cough. Some vaccines have to be taken at regular intervals to remain protective, make sure to inform yourself about your vaccine protection.
  • Prepare and cook food properly: wash your hands before, during and after handling food, cook meat to recommended temperatures and keep raw meat separated from vegetables and eating utensils. Take measures to ensure that the water you use is of good quality.
  • Avoid spreading disease: stay at home and rest when contagious.


The best way to avoid having to use antibiotics is to limit the risk of getting an infection in the first place!

Proper hand hygiene can prevent the spread of microorganisms and infectious diseases. Vaccines prepare your own immune system so that it can ward off attacks by specific microorganisms and protect against infections. Apart from protecting the vaccinated person, widespread vaccinations also reduce the occurrence of infections in society. Raw and improperly cooked food can contain microorganisms that may cause disease. Limiting the spread of diseases by using vaccines, proper hygiene and staying at home when you are contagious will result in fewer antibiotic prescriptions in the community.

Raise awareness


  • Learn more about bacteria and antibiotic resistance
  • Teach others about bacteria and antibiotic resistance, and inform them about possible actions to limit the problem
  • Become an antibiotic resistance champion: help raising awareness in your community, initiate your own activities and be an example for others.


To tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance, people need to change behaviors at all levels of society. Knowledge is needed on why it is important to take action for your own well-being as well as for the good of society.

By raising awareness, more people can be inspired to take action, which increases our chances to succeed in limiting the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria to preserve the cure for future generations.

Join the fight and take a pledge

In support of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) and the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), Public Health England (PHE) has launched a pledge campaign called ‘Antibiotic Guardian’ where the public, healthcare professionals, students and educators can join the fight against resistance. Choose your pledge and become an Antibiotic Guardian here.

Find out more

Below is a link to WHO’s campaign site for “World Antimicrobial Awareness Week” which takes place yearly in November. Go there to find campaign material, fact sheets and more!

WHO. World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

Please also visit the ReAct Toolbox to learn more about the risk antibiotic resistance poses to individuals and to society, and what can be done to raise awareness about the issue.

ReAct’s Toolbox. Why should I care? – Risks for the individual and society

ReAct’s Toolbox. Raise Awareness

© Uppsala University