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Flu Season Is Here: Protect Yourself and Others

Published: October 15, 2009
Flu season is here, but this year is slightly different from years past. Individuals should receive two flu shots this year: one for seasonal influenza and another for H1N1 influenza (previously referred to as “swine flu”).

At this time, the H1N1 virus is categorized as mild to moderate in nature, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus can, however, spread quickly. You can take steps to avoid catching and spreading H1N1 and seasonal influenza. Protect yourself with these easy steps.

Ward Off Germs

* The flu and common cold are usually spread through tiny droplets sprayed into the air when you cough or sneeze. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, or sneeze and cough into your upper sleeve to prevent the spread of germs. Throw away used tissues immediately and wash your hands.

* Wash your hands thoroughly and often. You must use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can live for two hours or more on surfaces like doorknobs, desks or chairs. They can easily be spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then your face.

* Avoid close contact with those who are sick.

If You Do Get Sick, Follow These Steps to Get Well

* Wash your hands often.
* Stay home and keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.

* Get plenty of rest.

* Drink lots of fluids like water, tea, broth or juice.

* Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain or fever.

* Use a vaporizer or saline drops to relieve congestion.

Remember, influenza can affect your entire family. Make plans now. What happens if one of your family members becomes ill? How will you balance work and family priorities? How will you take care of your children if you are sick?

Stay informed by visiting these online resources:

* (Centers for Disease Control)

*  (Virginia Department of Health)

* (City of Virginia Beach)

The key is not to panic and to be prepared. Follow the recommendations above to reduce the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu locally.