Entering a unique flu season - Take preventative measures now to protect yourself
Flu season is upon us. Each year in the United States, an average 5-10 percent of the population contracts the seasonal flu. Those at high risk for the seasonal flu include elderly, children, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions. Health officials advise everyone over 50 to get a seasonal flu shot. I encourage employees to consider the seasonal flu shot to protect themselves, coworkers and their loved ones.
This year will be especially challenging because there is a second flu virus, the “pandemic H1N1 flu”, also known as swine flu.
The regular flu vaccine won’t protect you against H1N1. That will require a separate inoculation once that vaccine starts arriving in mid-October. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified five high risk priority groups to receive the H1N1 vaccine (children and young adults, pregnant women, health care workers, people caring for infants under 6 months of age and people aged 25-64 with underlying medical conditions such as asthma, immune-deficiencies, diabetes, etc).
The CDC recommends getting the seasonal flu shot now before the lines start forming for the H1N1 vaccine next month.
Meantime, here are some everyday steps you can take to prevent the spread of germs:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Or cough and sneeze into your elbow.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective if no hand-washing facilities are nearby.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Stay home if you get sick. Remain at home until you’re free from fever without using fever reducers (a measurable temperature of 100 degrees F or higher) for 24 hours.
You will read and hear much about this year’s flu season. Our goal is to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information about prevention and to develop effective policies about what happens if you do get the flu.
We are in this together.