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Visiting Nurses Give Helpful Hints on Handling the Flu

Ways to protect yourself and others from the flu virus

This year’s flu season is turning out to be a tough one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there was a slight dip in flu activity in Massachusetts this past week but only time will tell if this trend will continue.

It’s true that those most likely to become seriously ill from the seasonal flu are over age 65. But the flu can be risky for anyone, even healthy adults and especially young children. Children under the age of 2 have some of the highest rates of hospitalization from the flu. Children under 6 months are at the most risk from the seasonal flu because they’re too young to get the vaccine.

If you’re in good health, you’ll probably recover from the seasonal flu just fine. However, healthy adults forget that while they themselves might be at low risk for getting serious flu complications, other people in their lives might not. If you have a small child or older parent at home, or are in regular contact with these age groups, an otherwise healthy adult could easily transfer the virus and endanger them.

Controlling the spread of the flu is important. Below are tips the Community Health Nurses and Clinicians of the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston share with their patients during the flu season.

Let’s all do our part to stay healthy and prevent the flu!

Visiting Nurses Offer Flu Tips

Flu Season Do's to Protect Yourself

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15-30 seconds after contact with someone with the flu or anything that they have touched. Liquid soap is safer than bar soap. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizing gel. Don't touch your mouth, nose or eyes with your hands after touching surfaces touched by people with the flu.

The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Clean surfaces that people touch a lot. Sinks, counters, telephones, door knobs, remote controls, toilets and light switches are important places and things to clean often. Use sanitizing wipes or diluted bleach to clean. Diluted bleach can be made by mixing a ¼ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water.

Dirty dishes, cups, forks, spoons and knives should be washed by hand or in a dish washer with warm water and dish washing soap. You do not need to separate dishes used by people with the flu.

Sheets and clothes used by people who are sick can be washed in washing machines with other laundry. Wash hands after handling dirty laundry. Care should be used when handling soiled laundry (i.e., avoid “hugging” the laundry) to avoid contamination.

Trash should be thrown away in plastic bags that are closed with twist ties, string, or tape.

Flu Season Do's to Protect YourselfCOVER

Be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and/or coughing. Make sure to throw the used tissue in the trash.

If tissues are not available, sneeze and/or cough into your arm in front of the elbow. That way if you are contagious (and it is really hard to know if you aren't), the germs coming out of your mouth don’t make it onto your hands, which interact with the world by touching. Since you are less likely to touch things with your elbow or shoulder, the germs won’t spread.

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People with flu symptoms should stay away from other family members. Visitors should stay away too. If you can, choose one bathroom to only be used by sick persons. People with the flu should not leave home until they are free of a fever for 24 hours without the use of medication to lower the fever.

People who do not have the flu should try as much as possible to avoid crowds and public places.


Flu Season Do's to Protect YourselfThe VNA of Boston also recommends flu vaccinations to all of our patients 6 months and older.

The best was to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. It is absolutely not too late to get your flu vaccine. Call your health care provider to schedule an appointment or visit www.mylocalclinic.com to find a flu clinic near you.
For more information about flu, flu vaccine, and other ways that you and your family can stay healthy this flu season, please visit www.mass.gov/flu or call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Immunization Program at (617) 983-6800.

About the VNAB

The Visiting Nurse Association of Boston & Affiliates (VNAB), with a commitment to all who need us, provides the highest quality and most efficient solutions for keeping people independent, at home and in the community, maximizing their health and quality of life. For more information about our services and how we can help you or a loved one call (617) 426-5555 or visit us online at www.bostonvna.org

Contact Information

This article brought to you courtesy of VNAB.

Kelly Frew
Visiting Nurse Association of Boston & Affiliates
617-886-6463 • kfrew@vnab.org


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Posted: January 18, 2013

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