The latest on the flu: Still not too late to get a flu shot

January 31, 2013

The good news is, reports indicate a slight decline in the number of flu outpatient visits over the past few weeks. The bad news: flu is still spreading to millions of Americans.

It’s not too late to get vaccinated.

"If you haven’t received a flu shot, there is still time to protect yourself," said Jan Jowitt, RN, DHA, Director of Nursing Services and Infection Control Officer for UNT Health. "It does take a couple weeks for the antibodies to develop that protect against influenza, so get your flu shot as soon as possible." 

Good hand-washing also helps prevent the spread of the flu virus and other communicable diseases. Eighty percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.

The Centers for Disease Control advises, "the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands." Judicious hand washing can help prevent not only common diseases like colds, but also more serious diseases like hepatitis A, meningitis and infectious diarrhea.

Wash your hands:

  • When they’re dirty
  • Before eating
  • After using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets or handling money

Don’t:

  • Cough or sneeze into your hands
  • Put your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Touch people or surfaces with unclean hands

Correct hand-washing:

  • Wet hands with warm water (not hot) and use soap
  • Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas
  • Rub for a minimum of 15 seconds or for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday"
  • Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel
  • Turn faucet off with the towel, not hands, to prevent recontamination

Did you know:

  • Only two-thirds of adults in the U.S. wash hands after using the bathroom
  • 1 in 4 adults don’t wash hands after changing diapers
  • Less than half of Americans wash hands after cleaning up after pets
  • Only 1 in 3 wash hands after sneezing/coughing
  • Less than 1 in 5 wash hands after touching money
  • 1 in 3 E.coli occurrences results from not washing hands before handling food

By frequently washing your hands, you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, surfaces, or from animals and animal waste. The simple act of consistently performing this basic task properly will make a big difference in your own household as well as in work, school and public settings. These statistics help illustrate why this is important.

For the latest flu information, visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov.

To make an appointment with a UNT Health physician, call 817-735-DOCS (3637).

 

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