Cold and flu season is here and it has hit hard. Each year in the United States alone, there are 1 billion cases of the common cold. Yes, a billion. It is average for a child under five years of age to have five to seven episodes of the common cold per year; adults typically have two or three.
With so many cases and such a burden placed on our communities by these viruses, it is important to do what we can to prevent the spread. I encourage you to remember three simple steps:
- Get a flu shot
- Wash your hands
- Cover your cough
Get a flu shot
The flu shot only protects against influenza viruses. There are hundreds of viruses that cause the common cold but it’s important to get whatever protection you can. If you have questions or concerns about the flu shot, I encourage you to contact your provider. Some people feel strongly about not getting a flu shot. All I can ask is that people make informed decisions based on accurate information. My personal experience is that most people who refuse a flu shot are doing so based on inaccurate information.
Wash your hands
Whether you are at home, at work, at a restaurant, or on a cruise, washing your hands is the most important way to prevent spreading germs to others. It is important to scrub your hands and nails for a full 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Please also remember that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular soaps. The best soap is the one that you use.
If you cannot wash your hands with soap and water, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Remember to rub all surfaces of your hands with adequate amounts of the sanitizer until they are dry.
Cover your cough
If you have a cough or cold, there are a few things you can do to prevent spreading it to others. Consider wearing a mask – you may be asked to wear one when you come see us in the office, and you may feel more comfortable wearing one in general, when you are sick and around others. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose, and if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Please also remember to wash your hands as a last step to protect those around you.
Where can I get more information?
The family of Pacific Medical Group clinics is here to help you – please ask!
You will also find more information on the web, including at:
www.cdc.gov/handwashing and www.flu.gov