Monday, October 22, 2007

More Should Get Flu Shot

For the last two years we were in a frenzy over the lack of flu shot availability. This year, there doesn't appear to be a shortage in supply.

Will YOU get your flu shot? It's not just for the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses anymore.

Why? Well, what happens if YOU get the flu and pass it on to the person you are caring for? You are not immune to the flu and you can pass it on.

The experts at the Center for Disease Control say that every year in the United States, on average:

5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

Some other good health practices to help prevent the flu from spreading include:

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Throw the tissue away as soon as possible to prevent the spread of germs.

4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Use warm water and lather with soap. Rub your hands together for 10 seconds, then rinse your hands and dry them. If you aren't able to use soap and water right away, use a alcohol-based waterless hand sanitizer.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. These healthy habits will keep your immune system healthy which helps if you are exposed to the flu or other illnesses.