Info 101 – H1N1 Holiday Update
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the pandemic has waned across the country of late, as has the number of flu-related school closings. Make no mistake about it, though. H1N1 is still out there, and, to date, has infected about 22 million Americans, while being linked to some 4,000 deaths — 540 of them children.
In other words, this is no time to be complacent, and that’s particularly true during this holiday travel season. Crowded planes, buses, and trains are ideal breeding grounds for the virus — especially given that some folks will travel despite being sick.
And now with Thanksgiving break behind us, we’re back at work and school — and shopping for gifts in stores and malls, too. Such settings make crowds and exposure to the flu hard to avoid, so be on guard.
Wipe the handles of shopping carts before heading down grocery aisles and use your own pen when signing for credit card purchases. Remember, too that money is a germ spreader, so, after shopping, wipe down your keys and steering wheel once back in your car. Keep disinfecting around the house, too, and be sure to eat well and stay well-rested.
Keep these reminders in mind, too…
1. Vigorously wash your hands in hot, soapy water.
2. Frequently use sanitizing gels and wipes.
3. Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth.
4. Cough/sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
5. Stay at home when you’re sick.
Remember, too, that, while you and businesses are doing your part, our schools are taking precautions, as well. Buildings get a thorough cleaning every day, and dispensers of sanitizing gel are located on desks along every hallway and in each classroom, as are good hygiene reminder posters.
Meanwhile, there’s some good news: the H1N1 vaccine supply has recently improved. Actually, as of last week, 541 million doses had been made available to the states, with 93% already distributed to them.
That means more of us can be vaccinated, but only if we are…
o Between the ages of six months and 24 years;
o In contact with or are a caregiver to a child(ren) younger than 6 months;
o A health care provider or emergency medical services employee;
o Under the age of 65 with such underlying conditions as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, suppressed immune systems, and neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders.
If you qualify, don’t delay. Contact your physician to check on availability. You can also contact the health center nearest you. Once vaccinated, you’re protected–and so are your family members and everyone else you come in contact with.