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Flu Prevention for the Holidays

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A message from County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H.

As we approach the holiday season please remember that this is also flu season!  I would like to remind everyone that this is prime time for influenza. So far this flu season, the novel H1N1 flu virus has been circulating much more frequently than the regular seasonal flu virus.  

The H1N1 virus could ramp up for the holidays because it's cool and dry outside, allowing the virus to remain alive on surfaces longer. As people attend holiday gatherings in large numbers, they also can potentially share germs.


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People are also more mobile during the holidays, traveling by car and airplane to see loved ones and they can potentially carry the viruses with them if they are sick.

The beginning of the holiday season means that a large number of shoppers will crowd into malls, stores and supermarkets -- coughing and sneezing, touching countertops and door handles, and potentially passing on or picking up flu viruses.  You and your loved ones can reduce your chances of catching and spreading the flu by following these simple but important steps:

If you are well:

  • GET VACCINATED. Check with your doctor to see if the vaccine is available for you.
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Carry alcohol-based hands cleaners or wipes and use them frequently when you shop, travel, or attend holiday functions.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and remind the kids not to do so either. Germs spread that way.

If you are sick:

  • Stay home from work or school, and don’t travel.
  • Do not return to work or school until 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. And wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

H1N1 vaccine has been in short supply for the past two months. Your doctor may not yet have received the vaccine; however supplies are continuing to slowly come into our region. The County Health Department recommends that high risk groups (also called Tier 1) as defined by the CDC be vaccinated first.  The County has been concentrating on these Tier 1 patients, which includes all school-aged children.  As these groups are vaccinated, we will be able to vaccinate additional lower risk groups, as long as the vaccine supply lasts.  Eventually, everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get one from their doctor or from the Health Department.

More information:

County H1N1 flu information

County H1N1 flu vaccine information 

CDC H1N1 flu information

Call 2-1-1


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