It's National Influenza Vaccination Week PLUS National Handwashing Awareness Week!
Every year in December, we’re reminded of the importance of protecting ourselves and others by stopping the spread of flu.
The two easiest ways to do that are:
- Getting the flu vaccine
- Washing our hands
According to the CDC, these simple preventative measures can have a huge impact.
That’s why National Handwashing Awareness Week and National Influenza Vaccination Week occur together every year in the beginning of December.
What is National Handwashing Awareness Week?
During National Handwashing Awareness Week health organizations focus on the importance of good hand hygiene and teaching us the best way to wash our hands. This year, Handwashing Awareness Week takes place December 1-7.
Handwashing Awareness Week is now more important than ever, and can even help save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the CDC, washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest and best ways to stop the spread of germs and help keep you and others from getting sick!
The proper steps of handwashing, according to the CDC are:
- Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold doesn't matter) and apply soap
- Lather the soap until it bubbles on the back of your hands, under your nails, and between your fingers
- Scrub your hands for 20 seconds (that's as long as the happy birthday song!)
- Rinse your hands until they're clean
- Grab a clean towel or air-dry your hands (for a green-friendly alternative)
It's important to know not just how to wash your hands, but also when.
When to wash your hands:
- Before eating
- Before, during, and after handling food
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- Before and after touching a cut or wound
- After using the bathroom
- After playing with your pets
- Any time your hands look or feel dirty or greasy
What is National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW)?
National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is a national awareness week focused on highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination. This year, NIVW takes place the week of December 5-11.
What is influenza?
Influenza (more commonly called the flu) is a contagious respiratory virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms, but for some it’s much more serious.
In fact, the CDC estimates that flu causes 12,000 to 52,000 deaths per year.
How does the flu spread?
According to the CDC,
“Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.”
How can the flu shot help?
The influenza vaccine, known as the flu shot, helps create immunity to flu viruses. But new viruses spread each year, so the flu vaccine is different from year to year.
That's why the CDC recommends getting the flu shot every year.
The vaccine is usually available in September or October, and can be given well into January and even February in some cases.
Not everyone can get the flu shot. Some individuals, including babies under 6 months old and people with severe allergies or certain health conditions aren’t able to receive it.
So be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.
Celebrate to Save Lives
Do your part this December by encouraging your loved ones to wash their hands, get their flu shot, and stay healthy. You can spread the word on social media, at school, and even at work!
There's no better way to help than to protect yourself and your loved ones. So wash your hands, visit your local clinic for your vaccine, and start fighting germs today!