Next week, December 4-10, 2011, is National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). It is a time for everyone to reflect on the importance of protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the complications of influenza “flu”.
The “flu” as it is most often referred to, can be a serious respiratory illness and even deadly to the very young, the very old and those with chronic medical conditions. At Chasing4Life it is important to us to respond to others in the face of a disaster….well, the influenza season is its own form of a winter disaster, a gift from Mother Nature every year. YOU need to prepare with a “flu disaster kit”…. An easy way to stay healthier this winter…. Because, “Baby it’s cold outside!” Family and friends will be gathering for the holidays and you don’t want to be the one sharing the flu!
Our safety elves have already “checked it twice” and know you’re on the “nice” list. Start protecting yourself today with the Flu Disaster Kit holiday shopping list:
Stay healthy and ready to party with the kids when the Santa comes to town! CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. No longer are there all kinds of age restrictions. Over the last few years and even more so since the H1N1 “Swine Flu” outbreak in 2009, scientists have learned more about the value of “community immunity” and protecting the public from this serious virus.
Clean Hands! It is the number one, easiest and cheapest way to keep germs from spreading to others. Keeping hands clean by either killing the germs with (alcohol-based) hand sanitizer or by washing the germs down the drain with soap and water. Keep a bottle of sanitizer in your pocket, in your car, wherever you go and use often! Wash hands frequently when dirty!
Cover your cough – every cough, every time! Coughs spread germs through the air in a tiny wet mist of droplets. Cough germs spread to your eyes, nose, or mouth and on typical household surfaces CAN make you SICK. Keep those germs to yourself by turning your head away from others and coughing into your elbow area. Germs can spread from coughing even when you are feeling better! Have a lingering cough from a cold or flu virus? That cough can still spread germs, sometimes for weeks after your first felt ill!
Contain germs in the trash can! When you use a tissue, immediately throw it away into a trash can and then clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap & water. Once you have germs on your hands,you can move those germs to other surfaces where they can survive on surfaces for hours. Many of these germs can be innocently picked up by yourself or the kids by touching something as simple as the TV remote, the bathroom or refrigerator door handle or the light switch. The germs then transfer from your hands and then to your eyes or nose with a simple rubbing or itching motion. Voile`! You have just provided the germs a happy new home and you feel ill in 24-48 hours.
Contain germs at home! Whether you work or go to school, stay home when ill! Do not struggle in to work or school as a “walking wounded” only to share those germs with others who will then be sick with YOUR illness in a few days.
Well, you’ve done your Flu Disaster Kit shopping and now you are trying to get the rest of your family to do the same….. What are their arguments?
Joseph complains: “I always get sick from the flu shot!”
Your answer for Joseph: Nope, Joseph, not possible, the flu vaccine contains a “dead” virus. Getting the flu shot merely motivates your immune system to develop resistance to the strains of flu for each specific year. And, yes, you must get a flu shot every year as the strains of flu virus change from year to year! So, Joseph, if you’ve gotten sick after the flu shot, this just means that you already had germs in your body and they made you sick about the same time you got your flu vaccine.
Mary complains: “I don’t like shots!”
Your answer for Mary: Now, if you have a great fear of “shots” Mary, then ask your doctor if you can “pick your nose”? The FluMist nasal spray vaccine may be the right choice for you as this is not a shot in the arm but a brief spray of vaccine up your nose. But there are things to consider when choosing FluMist – first, it is OK for healthy, non-pregnant persons aged 2 through 49 years. It’s also a live vaccine that’s been designed to not cause flu illness, but still have your body develop immunity. You will likely feel ill for a few days… need to prepare for that while taking care of your newborn son.
Cousin Elizabeth complains: “I don’t need the flu shot, I just need a cure for diabetes ‘cuz I want to eat Christmas sugar cookies!”
Your answer for Cousin Elizabeth: While the scientists are working to help you with your diabetes, they HAVE found a way to keep you and your loved ones safer during the winter flu season by developing the flu shot so people like you with a chronic illness can still enjoy the holidays together with your family!
This year’s flu vaccine is an overall good match of the flu strains moving around this season. Good news! This means that approximately two weeks after receiving your flu vaccine, the risk of developing significant illness from influenza is lessened because you’ve developed immunity to the flu. Each year thousands of people die due to complications of the flu. Getting the flu is serious, and even life threatening, to many people. It is extremely important for the health of the community for as many people as possible to become vaccinated. Just think of how many more days parents would have for summer vacation if they hadn’t had to spend a week at home with an ill child in January? How much easier it is for kids to go to school and learn in a healthy environment instead of their classmates coughing in their faces? What about your 3 month old baby at home who you decided to keep in a home setting and not in daycare? Well, if your second grader is not immunized, then she will likely be bringing home all those school germs to your infant. People are so quick to blame others, but the reality is, that they are part of the problem if not protecting themselves and their family members from the flu.
With flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones! It is not too late....prepare today!