At Virginia Mason, we’re big on flu prevention. In 2005, we were the first medical center to require staff members to get a yearly flu shot as a condition of employment, and now nearly all staff members are immunized each year. (For extra credit, read our health care industry blog post “Mandatory Flu Shots: A Defining Moment” to learn more about Virginia Mason’s decision to make flu shots mandatory for staff.)
Next week, we kick off our flu prevention campaign, and here are the steps you can take to join us in stopping the flu:
- Get vaccinated. Virginia Mason is offering influenza immunizations at many convenient locations throughout the Puget Sound beginning Monday, Sept. 17.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in a covered trash can after you use it and then clean your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are, or may be, sick.
- Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean, such as telephones, computer keyboards and doorknobs.
- Be healthy to stay healthy by getting enough rest, eating well and exercising. Control your stress levels. Prolonged stress can affect your immune system. To help manage your stress, find a balance between work, exercise and personal time.
If you do get sick despite your best prevention efforts, stay home. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, tiredness, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. With that list of icky ills, why would you want to leave home, so give yourself a break and rest.