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Stay Healthy over the Holidays

November 24, 2009
thanksgiving familyPass the Food, Not the Flu This Thanksgiving

Being sick over the Thanksgiving holiday is no picnic. To avoid getting the 2009 H1N1 flu this weekend, the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are offering some tips, both for staying healthy while traveling and once you arrive.

The CDC recently launched its largest ever public awareness campaign about staying healthy while traveling. Advice for having a flu-free holiday is posted on a special section of the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Web site.

CDC launched the campaign in a joint event with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week. The campaign was developed in April 2009 in response to the emergence of the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic and will be advertised widely.

In addition to media and social media campaigns, posters will be seen at airports, seaports, land borders, and other transportation stations throughout the holidays. Posters with the campaign themes, “Prevention can be Travel-Sized” and “Stop, Wash and Go” can be downloaded. You can also send an electronic greeting card to friends, family, and co-workers related to the campaign.

Local health departments, travel professionals, healthcare professionals, and colleges and universities will serve as education partners in the campaign. 

“We know that flu – and specifically H1N1 this year – is a big concern for people, but flu shouldn’t ruin the holidays,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said. “By practicing a little prevention, people can enjoy their holidays and stay well at the same time.”
The Red Cross also offers some useful tips on traveling and hosting Thanksgiving dinners, including avoiding any travel if you have flu-like symptoms. Some of the other tips the American Red Cross have shared through Twitter and their Web site are:

  • While Traveling: Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating any meals or snacks.  If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.  Use sanitary wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles, and seat armrests.  Bring personal blankets, pillows, and earphones.
  • While Feasting: Avoid the usual kisses and handshakes.  If you are the host and a household member becomes ill, separate them or change the venue.  Wash hands frequently—before preparing food, while cooking, and before eating.  Consider using disposable cups.  Identify guest’s drinks and don’t share them. Put serving utensils in every dish, including snacks like nuts and pretzels.
  • Public Restrooms: After washing your hands in a public restroom, turn off the faucet with a paper towel. Use another paper towel to dry your hands and open the door when exiting the restroom.
  • Private Restrooms:  Keep plenty of hand soap in the bathroom, preferably in a pump container.  Put away the fine linen towels and use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels. 
Most of all, enjoy your holidays. Happy Thanksgiving from NACCHO!

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