Healthcare professionals run a much higher risk of becoming ill during flu season than the average person, simply because they are exposed to many more people who are sick. Now that H1N1 has made the flu a more serious issue, particularly for young children and aging seniors, it is a bigger public health concern than in past years. Healthcare professionals have many options for fighting the flu this time of year, but the three big ones are immunization, immune system boosting and hand washing.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a trivalent vaccine, which prevents influenza A, influenza B and H1N1. The FDA recommends that all healthcare workers get vaccinated before flu season to avoid getting sick when the illness peaks. All other people who live with or care for people who are at high risk for getting the flu are also urged to get immunized. Children under the age of five and seniors over the age of 65 are considered the biggest -at-risk- groups among the general population.
Immune System Boosters
There are many ways to keep your immune system strong during flu season. The most common-sense piece of advice for any healthcare professional is to take care of yourself. If you fail to get enough rest, eat enough, drink enough water or spot illnesses early on and act appropriately, you run the risk of running your body ragged. It’s particularly important to eat a balanced diet before and during flu season. Antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, folate-rich foods and other immune system boosters will work wonders for combating the flu, colds and other illnesses. And while you’re at it, a little exercise never hurt anyone. It helps keep your body strong and resilient. .
Don’t Forget to Wash your Hands
Hand washing is an absolutely essential component of avoiding influenza. As a healthcare professional, you already have to wash your hands multiple times every day at work – pretty much every time you touch something or someone – but the hand washing shouldn’t stop when your shift is over. The habit of frequent hand washing in warm, soapy water may often be taken for granted, but it should never be forgotten. It is especially important to wash your hands every time you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep some antibacterial hand-wipes around just in case – you won’t be sorry.