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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                         Facebook    Twitter         Blog              
December 13, 2017                   EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon


Two young girls
Two children blow their nose.
Courtesy http://www.smchealth.org/flu


It’s that time of year - the time generally thought of as the cold and flu season. Thus far, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reported that influenza in seven states was reported as widespread, including in California. Two infants have died so far.

Many health agencies are advising people to get flu shots. The San Mateo County Health System has a list of free flu clinics with locations and dates on its website at http://www.smchealth.org/flu  Those, who are homebound and would like to get a flu shot should call 1-800-675-8437.

According to the county health system, “Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. There are other viruses that can cause these symptoms, but a high fever and bad cough usually indicate flu.”

Preston Merchant, the communications specialist for the San Mateo County Health System, said, "San Mateo County has only sporadic instances of the flu, which is normal for this time of year....But people should still take every precaution, especially getting vaccinated."

While it's widely recognized that getting a flu shot is important, there are additional things that people can do daily to protect themselves from getting a cold or the flu.

Local physicians with American Family Care, a health company that provides 160 health clinics nationwide, identified five things that you can do to protect your health. Here are the five top steps that they identified, which you can take every day:

  1. Knuckle it. When holiday shopping, get into the habit of punching in your debit card pin with a knuckle instead of a fingertip. This way if you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs.
  1. Avoid using your phone in the restroom.  A bathroom is coated with germs, especially in a public place.  While most people wash their hands after using the restroom, they don’t wash their phones.   The CDC says contaminated particles can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours, you can easily spread them by touching the screen then touching other surfaces.  Get in the habit of wiping down your phone to cut down on spreading germs.
  1. Don’t share pens.  Whether at work or signing a credit card receipt at a store, never pick up a public pen because they’re covered with other people’s germs.  Keep a pen handy for any situation that could pop up.
  1. Protect yourself at the pump. Drivers must get gas no matter what, sick or not.   When you fill up, grab a paper towel by the pump before picking up the gas nozzle.  You can also use the paper towel as a barrier when punching in your debit/credit card info.
  1. Sanitize after shaking. People are more germ-conscious these days so this is not as rude as once thought, especially during flu season!   If you must shake hands with someone, either sanitize or wash your hands immediately.

Reach the author of this article, Henrietta J. Burroughs, by email at epatoday@epatoday.org
. Get more information on the San Mateo County Health Department's website at http://www.smchealth.org/flu For American Family Care, see https://www.afcurgentcare.com/