It is Still Not Too Late to Get a Flu Vaccination

image100-1The new year has started out with the flu blanketing the U.S., only Hawaii has been spared. In mid-January, one in 15 doctor visits were for symptoms of the flu, the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009. On a good note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that hospital stays and deaths from the flu among the elderly so far haven’t been as high as in some recent flu seasons. How- ever, hospitalization rates for people 50 to 64 years of age has been unusually high.

Health officials say this year’s vaccina- tion correctly targets the strains that are making Americans sick, including one causing most of the illness, a Type A H3N2 flu virus. But exactly how well it is working won’t be known until next month. The same virus was the dominant flu bug last winter, when the flu season wasn’t so bad. It’s not clear why this season is so much more intense, some experts said. As top CDC flu expert Daniel Jernigan said: “Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones.” This strain, which has been around for 50 years, is able to change more quickly to get around the hu- man body’s immune system than the other viruses targeted in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. Based on patterns from past seasons, it’s likely flu season will start to decrease soon.

But it is still not too late to get the flu vaccination.

To stop germs spreading:

Avoid shaking hands. Maybe use a nod to acknowledge a friend.

Wash your hands frequently. Enough said, just do it.

Isolate toothbrushes. Once someone in your house has a cold, separate their tooth- brush from the rest of the pack to avoid contamination. After the person gets well, replace the toothbrush or toothbrush head with a new one.

Launder bedding frequently. The best thing to do if someone is sick is to put them in a separate room to sleep. If this isn’t possible, wash your sheets frequently in hot water or even just wash the pillowcases. Bath towels should be washed every day or two.

Keep the remotes wiped off. Keep a container of antibacterial wipes around so you can clean the remotes on a daily basis; clean your light switches and doorknobs with them too. Put a small wastebasket in the TV room with a plastic liner for all the wet tissues and used wipes and empty it once or twice a day.

 

You can still get the flu vaccination. To stop the spread of germs avoid shaking hands; wash your hands frequently; isolate toothbrushes; launder bedding frequently; and keep the remotes wiped off.