National Influenza Vaccination Week and National Handwashing Awareness Week are taking place this month from Dec. 2 to 8. Thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. Nearly 350 flu-related deaths occurred in San Diego County alone during the 2017-18 flu season, according to the Health and Human Services Agency. The best way to reduce your risk of getting infected and spreading the flu to others is to get a flu shot every year, wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Flu season can start as early as October and end as late as May. This is why the vaccine given to the public changes every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to start protecting you against infection. Taking preventive steps is key to protecting yourself, your family and your coworkers from getting sick. Keeping hands clean by washing them with soap and water is one of the most important preventive habits we can make.
Follow these five simple steps:
- Turn on the faucet to start the warm running water. Wet your hands.
- Apply soap and lather well, scrubbing between fingers, wrists, backs of hands and under nails for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse with warm water running from your wrist down to your fingertips, then into the sink.
- With the water still running, dry your hands well. Disposable towels or air hand dryers are required in public restrooms.
- Using a disposable towel, turn off the sink faucet and then dispose. Keep washed hands covered to prevent recontamination.
Note: If soap and water are unavailable, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Sharp Health Plan covers the flu shot as a preventive care benefit at no additional charge. Contact your primary care physician to schedule a preventive visit and get a flu shot, if you haven’t already. Also, for tips on how to stay healthy when others are sick, we recommend this article from Sharp Health News.