Every year, an estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of the United States suffers from seasonal influenza, more commonly known as the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While many consider the flu "just a bad cold," in reality, each year in the U.S., it's estimated that 200,000 or more are hospitalized for flu complications and thousands will die from flu related causes.
Many people are classified as high risk for the flu by the CDC, and according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, these groups include the elderly, young children, caregivers - including firefighters, and people with chronic illness. Vaccination is valuable for everyone, but it is especially important for those who are considered high risk. In addition, it is recommended that any person in close contact with someone in a high-risk group get vaccinated.
Flu can also burden the health care system, including Los Angeles Fire Department Paramedics, who already transport nearly 600 people to area hospitals each day with a multitude of illness and injuries.
That's why the men and women of the LAFD encourage you to practice six simple habits that can minimize your risk:
- Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Speak with a physician today about getting a flu vaccination or using antiviral medication. The LAFD encourages you to share this message and distribute free 'Healthy Habits' literature with those closest to you.
Click here to find flu vaccine distribution nearest you.
Getting a vaccination and practicing these Six Simple Habits can be a lifesaver for you and those you love. To learn more, visit: FLU.gov