Keep yourself and those around you safe this winter: Get a flu vaccine, wash your hands and wear a face covering | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Keep yourself and those around you safe this winter: Get a flu vaccine, wash your hands and wear a face covering

October 20, 2020

We are several months in to a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Everything looks a little different these days. People in masks out in public, Plexiglas barriers at most public places, physical distancing protocols and people practicing hand hygiene more vigilantly than ever.

Now, flu season is also upon us and it’s time to take one more precautionary measure to keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe from infection. Get your flu vaccine now. This simple thing will help protect you and those around you. The influenza season in Alaska runs from about September-May, but usually peaks between December-March.

Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available from your local health care provider. It is important for all people to get vaccinated for the flu to protect ourselves, as well as our family, coworkers and community. In addition, influenza poses a greater risk to certain people like pregnant women, children and Elders – they are all at high risk for flu-related complications.

Aside from protecting yourself and others against flu, another good reason to get a flu vaccine is we do not want anyone to contract both flu and COVID-19. Both are serious diseases with many possible complications. We do not want to be in a position in Alaska where we overburden our hospitals with flu patients.

Many Tribal health organizations are running flu clinics across Alaska. Please check with your local facility for times and dates near you. Anchorage residents can go to either the ANMC Anchorage Native Primary Care Center or the Walk-in Clinic to receive a flu vaccine.

Vaccination is safe and effective. All vaccines undergo long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and the federal government to make sure they are safe. Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. If you have any questions about what vaccines you and your family should get, talk to your primary health care provider.

This time of year, it is also very important to practice proper hand hygiene. You should always wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food; before eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound; after using the toilet; after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste; after handling pet food or pet treats; after touching garbage; and after leaving any public place.

If you have access to soap and water, wash your hands for 20 seconds and dry with a clean towel. If you don’t have clean, running water available to wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

And do not forget the importance of masking up when leaving your home to go out in public. When worn properly, masks are a very important infection prevention tool.

We know most people can’t leave the house without their keys and cell phone, but don’t forget these important accessories when leaving the house this winter season – make sure you have a clean mask and hand sanitizer as well.Please go and get your flu vaccine. Wear your Band-Aid like a badge of honor.

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