Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The cold and flu season is upon us! There are two main actions that you can personally choose to take that will increase the odds that you will avoid the sneezes, coughs, and sniffles that so frequently affect people at this time of year:  Get your flu shot, and wash your hands.

 Flu Shots:

December 2-8, 2012 is National Influenza Vaccination Week which was established to stress the importance of continuing influenza vaccination as well as fostering greater use of the flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond.

 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine as the first and most important step you can take to protect against this serious disease. It is especially important for some people to get their shot:

People at high risk for developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu like pregnant women; people 65 years and older; and those who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease.

People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications like household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions like those listed above.

 The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as the 2012-13 seasonal vaccine becomes available in their community. Remember that it takes about two weeks after the shot for antibodies to develop in your body and provide protection against the flu. Your doctors’ office can tell you where you may receive the shot.

 Hand Washing:

December 2-8, 2012 is also National Handwashing Awareness Week. Human beings have known since 1847 that washing our hands can help to prevent disease. There are two simple things to keep in mind to help reduce the risk of soiled hands making you sick:  Wash them properly and remember the 4 principles of Hand Awareness.

 Anyone can wash their hands properly:  (1) Wet them with warm water and apply soap (2) Rub your hands together to make lather and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails (3) Scrub for 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (4) Rinse your hands well under running water (5) Dry them with a clean towel or air dry them.

 Remember, the T-Zone area of your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) is the only portal of entry into the human body for ALL respiratory infections like the flu. There are 4 Principles of Hand Awareness:

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty (like every time you enter your home) and BEFORE eating
  2. Do NOT cough into your bare hands, do so into a Kleenex or your elbow
  3. Do NOT sneeze into your bare hands, do so into a Kleenex or your elbow
  4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. Remind people when you see them do this.

 For more information: