The good news about the flu: The number of cases in the U.S. are starting to decline for the first time, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The not-good news about the flu: Flu season still has weeks to go and the virus continues to strike many regions hard—why it's important to safeguard our children and ourselves as best we can.
It's not too late to vaccinate: that's the message from the CDC and I Vaccinate, the campaign sponsoring this post that aims to educate the public. Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses, reports the CDC. Adults and children who vaccinate are likely to have a less severe form of the flu, and are less likely to die from it. Children with neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and moderate to severe developmental delays, are at higher risk for flu complications, one key reason Max always gets one. For him, spiking a fever increases the chance of seizures.
Here, everyday way to ward off the flu and cold virus courtesy of Terri Adams, RN, Section Manager of the Division of Immunization at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:
Hi, disinfectant wipes.
"Things that get handled frequently at home and shared among family members are most likely to carry the virus," says Adams. For that reason, she recommends every day wiping down door knobs, fridge handles, kitchen drawer knobs and handles, bathroom handles, TV remotes and game controls, iPads, computer keyboards, and cell phones. This is the kind of fun I have after the kids are in bed! (OK, it only takes five minutes.) When you're at the supermarket, use the wipes to swipe the shopping cart handle. Avoid touching as many surfaces as you can in public, Adam says. It's why I use a knuckle to press elevator buttons (it's less likely to spread germs than a finger).
Change your linens more than usual.
Change bath towels—or at the very least, hand towels—daily and bed sheets weekly. If you or one of the kids gets sick, replace that toothbrush.
Wash hands a whole lot.
"Handwashing is critical!" says Adams. "Having a little nail brush by the sink is helpful as well. I teach children to sing 'Happy Birthday to Me' while they wash their hands to assure they've taken enough time to get their hands clean." Adults can do this too, I just don't recommend singing it out loud in the office bathroom. Use warm water and lots of friction. Hands should be scrubbed for at least 20 seconds, according to the CDC. "Fun, foamy soaps can encourage hand washing, and are typically less germy than bar soap," says Adams.
Use hand sanitizer, too.
"Hand sanitizer is good when you are out and about and handwashing facilities are not available, or before eating if you can't wash up," says Adams. If sanitizer you use contains alcohol, you only need a pea-size amount. Rub onto a child's hands until completely dry, being sure to get in between their fingers. "Do not use sweet-smelling or fragrant hand sanitizer because your child will be tempted to lick their hands," notes Adams. At home and on the road, keep alcohol-based sanitizer out of the reach of children; if you think your child has swallowed any, call poison control.
Try to be generally healthy.
You know the drill: Well-balanced meals, plenty of Vitamin C, veggies and water. Exercise, sunshine and fresh air help, too. "Don't buy into the myth that going outside will make you sick," says Adamas. "Flu virus spreads in warm, close quarter in the air, when others cough or sneeze them out. Exercising helps to balance our need for rest, which helps adults and children sleep better—and help our immune system defend against illness."
Wishing you and your family good health and NO FLU.
This post is sponsored by I Vaccinate.
Image source: Flickr/Beezly