You can tell by the number of empty desks at work and school – flu season is here. There are signs everywhere reminding you to get a flu shot, so what’s stopping you? No more excuses – make getting a flu shot your priority for today.
Anyone can get the flu, yes, even you. It can send a perfectly healthy person to the emergency room with a high fever and trouble breathing, or at least knock you off your feet for days or even weeks. For kids under two, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease or diabetes, the flu can be especially severe, even fatal.
Some protection is better than no protection. Flu vaccines don’t come with a 100 percent guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but it’s still your best bet. Without a flu shot, you’ll be at greater risk for missing school or work. The Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – a group of doctors and other immunization experts – recommends everyone six months old and older get a flu shot every year.
And despite what you may have heard, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. The vaccine is made with “inactivated” (killed) virus. It also takes a couple of weeks for the vaccine to take hold in your body. Some people may experience a mild reaction from their flu shot, but that isn’t the same as having the flu.
It’s also cheap and convenient. It’s never been easier to get a flu shot, which can be found at most pharmacies, grocery stores, doctor offices and health clinics. And it may not even cost you anything. For the majority of people with health insurance, the flu shot is covered under preventative care. In Fairfax County, flu vaccine is available at all five Health Department clinics.
Washing hands is the most important and easiest action we can take to prevent getting sick and spreading illness. It may sounds simple, but keep these six steps in mind every time for best results:
- Start with Soap and Warm Water
- Make a Lather
- Scrub Thoroughly for 20 Seconds
- Scrub Palms, Back of Hands, Between Fingers, Under Nails
- Rinse Well and Use Paper Towel to Shut Off Faucet
- Dry Hands Completely
Did you know that germs can live for two hours or longer on many surfaces? When you cough or sneeze, droplets get released into the air. These droplets contain germs, including those germs that can make others sick.
If you use your hands to cover your coughs and sneezes, you can spread germs to everything you touch, such as door knobs, keyboards, elevator buttons, telephones, and even food. Covering coughs and sneezes the right way can protect others from getting sick.
Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Or use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then discard the tissue in the trash.
Watch this video for more flu prevention advice from our Health Department nurse: