Vaccines, healthy choices, tissues and the crook of your elbow: Tips to stay safe during flu season

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer 

January 31, 2020- We are in the midst of the flu and respiratory disease season, schools in Northeast Ohio are closing due to student illnesses, and there are concerns about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (see the link below). The Northeast Ohio  Region of the American Red Cross offers information and recommendations to help keep you, your family and those close to you safe.

Flu safety is especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications, including children over 6 months, pregnant women, those living with a chronic medical condition, anyone living with or caring for someone at high risk, and those age 50 or older. If you are at high risk, update your vaccinations each year as directed by your physician.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children younger than 6 months are also at high risk of flu complications but are too young to receive a flu vaccine. Due to this, the CDC advises those who live with, care for or are around infants younger than 6 months to take special care to safeguard the child, including getting vaccinated. More information from the CDC is available here.

There are other preventative actions you can take. Foremost is practicing good health habits such as eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep. You can also help stop the spread of germs by frequently washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing (if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow), minimizing contact with sick people, avoiding others when you are sick, and adopting business and school practices that encourage those who are sick to stay home.

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When you or a loved one does get the flu, we recommend taking a number of steps. These include designating one person as the caregiver, keeping everyone’s personal items separate, disinfecting common surfaces, washing dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using very hot water and soap, washing your hands after handling dirty laundry, and wearing disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids. See more Red Cross information here.

Finally, regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the CDC states its investigation is ongoing and the situation rapidly evolving. Currently, CDC experts say, “While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat.” The CDC offers similar recommendations to those outlined above as well as taking flu antiviral medication if prescribed. Special considerations and care need to be taken by healthcare professionals, travelers and those who may have the infection. Information and updates are available on the CDC website.

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Stay safe this flu season. For more information on the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

American Red Cross statement on Novel Coronavirus:

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