Healthy Living in the North

Five things you can do to help prevent the flu!

Prevent the flu by looking after your health! Getting outside helps me find wellness in the winter. Pictured: my friend and I skiing at Murray Ridge Ski Hill in Fort St. James.

As a communications advisor for the Northern Health, influenza (the flu) becomes a big part of my day-to-day work when the winter season begins. It’s my job to help get important flu messages out to the right people, on the right channels, at the right time.

In preparation for influenza season, every fall I work closely with my public health and primary care colleagues to make sure Northerners know where and when they can get their flu shot and what they can do to prevent getting the flu and spreading it. We also work together to share why it’s important to get your vaccination (hint: it has to do with protecting the vulnerable).

Here are five things you can do to help prevent the flu:   

  1. Getting your flu shot isn’t just about you – it’s about protecting those around you. Sure, getting a flu shot can be temporarily uncomfortable, but for those who are sick, immune compromised, or elderly, getting the flu isn’t just uncomfortable but potentially deadly! Getting your flu shot protects them and yourself.
  2. When visiting a Northern Health facility, make sure you’ve had your flu shot or wear a mask. I recently had a family member staying at UHNBC and I made sure to remind my family members to only visit if they had had their flu shot or wore a mask. Staff and physicians are asked to report their choice.
  3. Wash your hands! Having good hand hygiene during flu season is one of the best ways to prevent getting and spreading the flu. Get in the habit of washing your hands before eating, touching your face, or after touching common surfaces (hello elevator buttons!). Need a refresher on your technique? Check out this guide.
  4. Getting your flu shot can be easy and convenient. Did you know that in many communities you can get your flu shot at your local pharmacy? For me, this was a great option when I missed getting my flu shot at work. Many pharmacies are open after work hours (great for those of us who work regular office hours) and don’t require any appointments. You can find a flu shot provider at ImmunizeBC.ca.
  5. Stop the flu by staying healthy. This time of year can be busy both professionally and personally for many people. For me, I find it’s a time when I really need to pay attention to my physical and mental wellness so I don’t get run down. Doing activities I enjoy, incorporating wellness at work, and making sure I’m sleeping enough all help. 

So there it is! Five things I want you to remember when it comes to flu:

  1. Get your flu shot to protect yourself and those around you.
  2. Make sure you’ve had a flu shot or wear a mask when visiting hospitals.
  3. Wash your hands!
  4. Find a flu shot clinic that’s convenient for you.
  5. Stop the flu by looking after your health!
Haylee Seiter

About Haylee Seiter

Haylee is a communications advisor for Public and Population Health. She grew up in Prince George and is proud to call Northern BC home. During university she found her passion for health promotions by volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society and became interested in marketing through the UNBC JDC West team. When she's not dreaming up communications strategies, she can be found cycling with the Wheelin Warriors or spending time with family and friends. (NH Blog Admin)

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Achoo! Flu season is near

Hands under running water

Proper hand washing is an important step that you can take to prevent the spread of the flu virus! Do you know how to properly wash your hands?

The cold weather is fast approaching and we are again reminded that influenza (the flu) season is near. For many Canadians, catching the flu can be a miserable experience. Symptoms include fever, body aches, headache, dry cough, and fatigue. For some, the flu can lead to bacterial infection such as ear infection, sinus infection, or pneumonia. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

For the best protection against influenza, I recommend getting your flu shot.

There are also some additional ways you can prevent the spread of flu. At one time or another, all of us have endured the experience of someone sharing their germs. It isn’t a pleasant experience! So be kind to your friends and neighbours; practice coughing and sneezing etiquette! Influenza is easily spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or having face-to-face contact. It is also spread through touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus.

This video by ImmunizeBC shows how influenza spreads:

You can reduce the risk of getting and spreading the flu virus by:

  • Washing your hands regularly (especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose)
  • Coughing and sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands
  • Putting your used tissue in the waste basket
  • Staying home when you are ill
  • Getting an influenza vaccine. Visit ImmunizeBC to find a clinic near you!

To properly wash your hands, follow these steps:

  1. Remove rings or other jewelry on the hands and wrists.
  2. Wet your hands with warm water.
  3. Wash all parts of your hands with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds, rubbing hands together to create lather. To help children learn the timing to wash their hands, sing the ABC song.
  4. Rinse hands well under warm running water.
  5. Dry hands with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  6. Use the towel to turn off the tap and open the door when you leave if you are in a public restroom.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. After applying the gel or foam, rub your hands together until they are dry. This is an easy way to clean your hands as long as they are not visibly dirty.

More information

Kathryn Germuth

About Kathryn Germuth

From northern B.C., Kathryn worked as a public health nurse in the communities of Terrace and Kitimat before filling in as the Public Health Communications Liaison Nurse. Kathryn has a passion for healthy community work and health promotion. She loves living in the north and experiencing all it has to offer including going for a jog amongst our beautiful scenery. This Christmas, she is expecting a new addition to her family and excited for all the new experiences and joy that will bring.

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