As fans wait to gather across the country for the biggest football weekend of the year, more and more people are sick with the flu. The American Red Cross says it’s not too late for folks to get their flu vaccine and has steps people can take to help avoid getting sick if watching the big game at a party.
Influenza is now widespread in 37 states and Puerto Rico with all the other states reporting people sick too. This is up from 21 states only two weeks ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the 37 states include Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
STAY HOME One of the most important things you can do is stay home if you are ill or someone in your household is sick. While it’s hard to miss the party, people should act responsibly and stay home to avoid spreading illness.
If someone has the flu, they can infect others a day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after they become ill. People with the flu can spread the illness to others as far as six feet away by droplets spread when coughing, sneezing or talking or left on a surface.
WASH YOUR HANDS One of the most important steps to take to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands properly, especially after using the bathroom or when preparing food. For visibly soiled hands:
- Wash with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, covering the entire hand including fingernails and under jewelry.
- Rinse and dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
- Use the towel to turn off the faucet.
If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
- Rub thoroughly over the entire hand, including nail areas and between the fingers.
- Continue to rub until the product dries.
PARTY TIPS Other steps to help avoid getting sick include:
- Hosts should provide a way for people to identify their drinks. People shouldn’t let anyone else drink out of their glass.
- Give every dish a utensil for serving, including those snack dishes like nuts, pretzels, etc. This allows people to spoon out their portion instead of reaching in with their hands.
- Do not share food. Avoid anything that involves sticking your hands into a bowlful of food.
- Hosts should also make sure there is plenty of soap in the bathroom. Instead of the usual pretty hand towel, use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels.
- If you plan to host a party and someone in your household becomes ill, move your event to a different location.
GET YOUR FLU VACCINE It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine now. Everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine to help protect against getting sick. Flu vaccine is available in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will protect you throughout the current flu season. Several groups of people are at a higher risk for developing the flu, including young children, adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, nursing home residents and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease and others.
More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App.
We hope everyone will enjoy the game and stay well.