03 Mar More than the Sniffles
The 2015-2016 flu season is well underway, and now is a good time to evaluate if you are protecting yourself. The Centers for Disease Control urge everyone to care for, and protect, themselves by getting the flu vaccine. New flu vaccines are released every year by the CDC, and it is recommended that people get vaccinated before October, when the flu season is expected to peak (through the spring). For the 2015-2016 season, the CDC has released vaccines that are either three-component (for 3 types of viruses), or four-component vaccines (for 4 types of viruses), that are sure to keep you covered all season long. People canget vaccinated at pharmacies, clinics, and doctors’ offices via different routes. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about getting the vaccine, even if flu season has already started.
The flu can spread through contact with infected persons, and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes; it can also spread through droplets from coughing, sneezing, or even talking. People who are infected can infect others before they get sick, and during the first 5 or 6 days of feeling sick. Some things that you can do during your daily routine (at work, school, or at home) to reduce the risk of infection, and prevent the spread of the flu include:
- Avoid contact with people that are already sick
- If you (or your child or elderly parent) are sick, stay home for at least 24 – 48 hours
- While sick, avoid contact with other people
- Cover your nose or mouth while sneezing or coughing; and throw tissues away immediately after use (IMPORTANT: as of 2009, the CDC recommends coughing or sneezing into your elbow rather than the palm of your hand, reducing the likelihood of transmission by hand-to-hand or hand-to-body contact)
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Clean and disinfect any surfaces that you may come in contact with while sick
When dealing with sick coworkers, it is important to regularly disinfect surfaces with which people come into frequent contact such as phones, keyboards and mouse, doorknobs, etc. Also, make sure you have enough soap, tissues, paper towels, hand sanitizers, and other essential disinfecting/cleaning supplies. If you feel sick at work, go home!
For the elderly, the flu can be especially debilitating. The elderly run a higher risk of infection due to reduced immune response at advanced age. It is important to keep good daily habits that protect your elderly family members from potentially getting the flu. Vaccines are available that are safe for adults older than 65 years of age. Talk to your doctor if you, or your elderly family member, need to get vaccinated.
It’s important to remember that prevention is the best tool we have to fight the flu. While there are antiviral drugs to help people that are hospitalized, the best treatment is no treatment at all.
For more information please visit the Centers for Disease Control website by clicking here.