In Pontotoc and elsewhere around the U.S., we are heading into the flu season and that means it’s time to take a few extra precautions for avoiding this potentially deadly disease. National Influenza Vaccination Week will be observed on December 6th through the 12th this year, and that’s a great time to be vaccinated so you are sure to have the protection you need this coming year. National Handwashing Awareness Week will be held on December 1st through the 7th, so as to increase awareness of the importance of handwashing with regard to avoiding the possibility of contracting the coronavirus. Senior home care workers are aware of the significance of both vaccinations and handwashing in the effort to keep seniors and others healthy through the flu season and beyond.
Why should you be vaccinated against influenza?
You might be surprised to learn just how many illnesses are prevented by flu vaccinations every year. During the period from 2018 to 2019, it is estimated that flu vaccinations staved off approximately 4.5 million influenza illnesses, while also avoiding the need for 2.3 million medical visits, as well as 58,000 hospitalizations, and 3,500 deaths, all of which would have been associated with contracting influenza.
It has also been estimated that the flu vaccination will reduce the risk of having to see your doctor by somewhere between 40% and 60%. Studies have shown that the flu vaccine has reduced the risk of children’s pediatric intensive care unit admissions by up to 74%. Among seniors, flu vaccines have lowered the risk of hospitalization associated with the flu by approximately 40%.
A very recent study conducted during the early part of 2020 showed that flu vaccinations lowered the frequency of flu-associated hospitalization by more than 40%, while also reducing the number of emergency room visits for children between the ages of one year and 17 years by 50%. Among those people who do get sick after being vaccinated, studies have shown that the severity of their illness is almost always reduced because they have gotten the flu shot.
Studies have shown that receiving the flu vaccination has lowered the number of intensive care unit admissions, the duration of stays at the ICU, the duration of hospitalization visits, and the number of deaths that occurred among vaccinated patients. Other studies have shown that vaccinated patients are nearly 60% less likely to require admission to the ICU than those who were not vaccinated.
For people who have chronic health conditions, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the incidence of cardiac events, to lower the risk of hospitalization for lung diseases, and to reduce the incidence of hospitalizations among people with diabetes.
Why is handwashing so important?
If you have ever wondered about the insistence of public health officials on the importance of handwashing, here is why they place so much significance on the practice. Germs can very easily get onto your hands when you touch any object which has germs on it, for instance after someone has coughed or sneezed on it. Anytime germs get on to your hands like this and are not washed off, it becomes very easy to pass them along from one person to the next and to infect people so they become sick.
When you wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, these kinds of germs will be removed from your hands, and the practice will help to prevent infections. The reason for this is that people will frequently touch their mouth, nose, and eyes with hands that might have germs on them, and these areas provide easy access to the rest of the body.
It is also possible for germs situated on unwashed hands to get into drinks and foods while individuals are engaged in food preparation. It’s possible for some types of germs to multiply while they are on foods or drinks, and this can increase the likelihood of making consumers sick. It’s very easy for germs on unwashed hands to get transferred to other objects such as toys, tabletops, handrails, and other objects before being transferred to someone else.
By washing your hands, you will be going a long way toward preventing respiratory infections and diarrhea, as well as eye or skin infections. It is known, for instance, that regular handwashing will reduce the number of people who get infected with diarrhea by somewhere between 23% and 40%. Consistent handwashing will also reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses such as colds by approximately 20%, and it will lower worker absenteeism because of gastrointestinal illnesses by between 29% and 57%.
The bottom line on all this is that washing your hands can literally be the very most effective way of preventing the spread of diseases which can result in illness, lost time at work, and perhaps even worse conditions among those who eventually get infected.