Hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water are two effective ways to prevent the spread of viral respiratory illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand washing education reduces the number of diarrhea cases by a third and the number of colds and other respiratory illnesses by 20 percent.
Effective hand washing involves five simple and effective steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also a quick and easy way to disinfect hands. The CDC has resources and science to back up healthy hand hygiene at https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html.
The CDC also recommends getting an annual flu vaccine, stating the more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected.
Essentia Health Chief Patient Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, an infectious disease specialist, said flu shots help not only the recipient, but also those with significant health conditions who may not respond well to the vaccine.
Vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women. Here are some things parents can do to make the experience more comfortable for children:
• Bring a comfort object, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, that will help your child feel comfortable and safe in the environment.
• Use comfort positions of hugging your child chest to chest, chest to back, or in a side-seated position – all ways to have the child feel embraced and secure – while receiving an immunization.
• Provide distractions, such as deep breathing or blowing bubbles.
The cost of a flu vaccine is covered by Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance companies.
Essentia Health clinics offer 10-minute appointments at all locations: Baxter, Brainerd, Crosslake, Emily, Hackensack, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pillager and Pine River. Options for flu vaccination will include flu shots and a high dose flu shot option for those 65 and over. Call 218-828-7100 to schedule an appointment.
Following is a schedule of walk-in flu clinics:
• 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25, at Baxter, Crosslake and Pine River clinics.
• 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 7, 14, 21 and 28, at Brainerd Clinic.
• 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26, at Emily, Hackensack, Pequot Lakes and Pillager clinics.
• 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, at Pierz Clinic.
Prabhu also suggests always covering a cough, staying home when sick or donning a mask to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.
For more information about the upcoming influenza season, check out the CDC’s resources at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.