With all this talk about swine flu, I had a brief moment where I wondered whether I had doomed us all to death by vetoing the flu vaccine - what's a little mecury compared with a deadly pandemic virus? In my past life as an employee benefits manager, I did lots of planning work on pandemic preparedness. I have had plenty of exposure to the doomsday scenarios that most people are just beginning to think about again.
Well, I'm feeling a little better now - it looks like the flu vaccine will have no impact on the swine flu. So, I haven't doomed us... I think.
And I have taught the kids some good lessons that should serve them well. It's the same stuff I always sent out the flu vaccine clinic emails at work - I felt ethically obligated to do something that would actually be likely to keep our employees from getting sick since I was inviting them to get stuck with a needle that probably wouldn't).
- Wash your hands frequently with mild soap and water. Washing hands is less irritating to your skin and highly effective - bacteria and viruses don't 'stick' well and water will wash away germs that are not killed.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be a back-up when there's no running water - but proper washing is always best. Frequent use can be irritating and cause cracking skin (not good when you are trying to keep germs out of your body, plus ouch!). Use only as needed, rub hands well and stick to unscented versions that are at least 60% ethyl alcohol. Rinse your hands as soon as you can thereafter, too.
- Cough into your elbow - not your hands.
- Don't shake hands if you are ill and politely decline if someone appears ill (pretend you are sick).
- After contact with others or surfaces in public places, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Many viruses (like colds) are easily introduced to your body from your fingertips to your eyes because by rubbing your eyes you circumvent many of the bodies natural barricades to infection. Pay attention!
- Finally, if you are ill, stay home. As important as each of you are, if you fell your entire department with that nasty cold, you'll all regret it more than using up a sick day.