The Salt Lake County Health Department is warning residents about a second round of the flu happening right now. Melanie Spencer, an epidemiologist, joined Good Morning Utah to give some tips for protecting yourself and your family.
The two best things you can do to protect yourself from the flu are getting vaccinated and good, frequent handwashing.
It’s especially important for people over age 65 to be vaccinated, and they should receive a special “high-dose” vaccine. This is because our immune systems become less robust as we age, and the high-dose vaccine helps older people’s immune systems prepare better to combat the flu.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated! Most years in Salt Lake County, we see flu cases into April. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective, so get vaccinated now so you’re protected as soon as possible. Vaccine effectiveness varies from person to person and flu strain to flu strain, but even if you still get the flu after being vaccinated, the vaccine will help your illness be shorter and less severe than it would have been without the vaccine.
Good hand washing is the single best thing you can do to keep yourself well from ALL kinds of illness. Do it often, and do it correctly: warm water, lots of lather, scrub hands together for at least 20 seconds.
Hand sanitizers are NOT an acceptable substitute for proper hand washing (hand washing is effective because it sloughs off the germs and washes them down the drain; sanitizers don’t slough off germs, they just inactivate some of them).
If you do get sick, stay home from work, school, and social events so you don’t spread the illness to others.