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Editorial: Here’s what you should do to avoid the flu

Editorial Board • Jan 17, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Flu season is in full swing, and the entire country is seeing elevated levels of the illness, says the Centers for Disease Control. How you conduct yourself with respect to the illness will impact whether the spread will get worse.

Locally, we’re at “epidemic levels,” according to Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine. “We’re in the middle of a very serious flu season. We want to make sure the public understands the severity of this.” In response, Ballad has established a separate emergency room entrance and triage area at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Vaccination is the first step to flu prevention, and all healthy people should get vaccinated, including children. Otherwise, you should understand how best to prevent the spread of flu if it finds its way into your house.

Your personal hygiene is important during flu season, notes webmd.com. Wash your hands. Cold and flu viruses may be spread by indirect contact. Maybe someone sneezes onto their hand and then touches a doorknob, then the virus is picked up by the next person who touches it. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent getting sick.

Do the elbow cough. Since viruses cling to your bare hands, you can reduce the spread of viruses by perfecting the art of the elbow cough. When you cough, simply cover your face with your entire elbow. It’s also an easy technique to teach kids.

Disinfect common surfaces. Viruses that cause colds and flu can survive on common surfaces for up to 72 hours. Don’t forget to use Clorox or other disinfecting products on phone receivers, doorknobs, light switches and remote controls.

Drinking water can help strengthen your immune system, keeping the flu at bay. And if you do get sick, water flushes your system, rehydrates you and washes out the toxins. An adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day. If the color of your urine is close to clear, then you are getting enough. If it’s deep yellow, drink more water.

Flu vaccines are being offered for free at the Tennessee Department of Health’s regional offices, though supplies are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We would still recommend for anybody to get the flu vaccine,” said Leslie Dome, the communicable disease director for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office. “That is one of the main ways to prevent the flu. It’s not too late.”

For those looking to get a flu vaccine, it’s recommended you call your local health office ahead of time to confirm they still have vaccines available.

Last thing, if you feel sick, stay home. Do not expose others.

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